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Nurses Living and Working In Abu Dhabi - Rachel Rowson's Story

Nurses Living and Working In Abu Dhabi - Rachel Ro
Photo: Nurses Living and Working In Abu Dhabi - Rachel Ro
Where are you from? Manchester, England.

Where were you trained? I did a diploma of higher education at the University of Lancashire in Preston and then did a degree in professional nursing practice at the University of Manchester.

Where have you worked before? When I qualified, I went to work on the intensive care unit at Salford Royal Hospital, which is a specialist Neurosurgical centre and also sees a mix of medical and surgical patients. I stayed on this unit for 6 years. I worked as a staff nurse before becoming a nurse practitioner. I have always had a passion in organ donation and I was then successful in becoming a specialist nurse in organ donation. Although at the time I was working for NHS blood and transplant, I was still based at Salford. However, I would travel around the region when on call. I was caring for patients at the end of their life and offering the possibility of organ donation.
When did you travel to Abu Dhabi? I came to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in February 2015.

Why did you choose this side of the world?  I have a friend that works in Saudi Arabia and ever since she went there almost 4 years earlier, I had been interested in going. I was keen to work abroad as this was something I had never done and the thought of having nice weather and the financial incentives were all very attractive to me. I looked in to it a few years before but it never came to anything. Then in August I got a call from CCM Recruitment International asking me if I was still interested in working in the Middle East. At the time, I was taken by surprise but I was told that there was a recruitment day being held in two days’ time. I actually happened to be off work and the hotel where it was being held was local. I thought I had nothing to lose so went along. When they showed the CCAD empathy video, I suddenly realised how much I wanted this. The film really touched me and I saw aspects of the nurse I'd always aspired to be in the video.

What made you make the change? It honestly just felt like the right thing to do. I was at a point in my life where I had no commitments and I'd always regretted not working abroad. This, in addition to the weather and social aspects, it seemed like a win-win situation.

Why did you choose CCAD? Cleveland Clinic has a brilliant reputation. I learnt more about the intention of CCAD, which is to bring world-class healthcare to the UAE and surrounding countries in the Middle East. Currently, the population usually has to travel abroad to receive healthcare when they are seriously unwell. I really wanted to be  a part of the project as I could relate to patients that had travelled long distances to receive care at the hospital where I was working. 

Would you encourage others to make the change? Why? People say that I am brave for making the change, but it's one of the best things I've ever done for myself. The things that I have experienced so far are life changing, and has made me grow as a person. I can’t recommend it enough!

How have you managed the change in your life? Moving away from family and friends isn't an easy thing to do. Of course living there comes with some sacrifices. However, it's not too far away, 7 hours on a flight from Manchester. I've had five different lots of visitors so far as the flights are so reasonable and the weather is amazing all year round. This makes it much easier. Then there is skype. It's so easy to keep in touch with people. I regularly sit down and have cups of tea with my mum and friends over it. It also helps planning regular trips to go home or to travel to some of the amazing places that aren't too far away. It's a great place to travel from.

What challenges have you faced to date? Why? How? One of the biggest challenges I have faced so far is working in an American healthcare system when you're used to the NHS. I'm so open to new things though, and I just ask a colleague if I don’t know something. I have to say the people are amazing at helping you out. After all, everyone is in the same position.

Could you comment on the positives that you have found to date and perhaps some of the difficulties? Positives- the amazing friends you make. I've met some friends for life. You also meet people from all over the world and you learn so much about other cultures. It really does make you realise how little you knew before and makes you appreciate things. Great travel opportunities and living in year-round sunshine are also very appealing. Receiving a travel allowance towards one flight home per year is an attractive benefit. Living in a luxury accommodation that is provided with high-end facilities on-site is also something that is a little hard to believe!

What career opportunities have you found here compared to back home? For me, working in a start-up hospital is such an exciting experience. Who can say they opened a brand new hospital? I learn so much every day and find myself involved in so many things from policy writing to leading councils, being an advocate for change to arranging social events. I would say to anyone that coming to work here, the things you will be exposed to will be an invaluable learning experience that will look great in your professional portfolio.

What have you found to be your funniest moment since arriving? One of the funniest things has been bumping into a friend that grew up in the same tiny village as I did. She doesn't work at the hospital, but I was relaxing after work in a bar which is close by and there she was. It makes you realise how small the world is and that you're never far away from home.
How do you spend your leisure time? I have to say that the social life in the UAE is something else. There is the opportunity to do so many things you wouldn't normally be able to afford to do at home. In the first four months, I went to see Drake, Jessie Ware, Craig David, Kassabian and Robbie Williams. I've been to the World Cup horse races in Dubai, which is the biggest race in the world. I've travelled to other Emirates and to surrounding countries including Bahrain and Qatar. I've also had the opportunity to go to the Philippines. One weekend I hired at yacht with 30 friends, which we sailed around Abu Dhabi. There are constant gatherings, the famous brunches, etc. Honestly, the list goes on. And when I need to escape from Abu Dhabi, I go to Dubai for the weekend which is only an hour drive away. I've taken part in water sports and spend a lot of my leisure time on Yas beach, pinching myself as I can't believe I live here!

How would compare the price of things to back home? Abu Dhabi can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. Taxis are so cheap. When you eat out, you can either go for high or low-end, the choice is all yours.

Culturally how have you found it? I love working and learning about different cultures. The local people are so welcoming. You must be respectful to their culture and religion, but they are so open to expatriates living in their country. It's surprising how quickly you pick up small words that help you get by.

What is your overall opinion to date? I absolutely love it. No regrets.

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