The Remarkable Journey of an International AHP: From Student to Director

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the stories of professionals who embark on extraordinary journeys to make a difference stand out. Deepak Agnihotri's journey from being an international student to becoming a Training Programme Director at Health Education England (HEE), North West and Allied Health Professions (AHP) BAME Strategic Advisor at NHS England is nothing short of inspiring. In this blog, we explore Deepak's remarkable career path, the challenges he faced, and the valuable insights he gained along the way.

1. From India to the UK: A Student's Aspiration

Deepak Agnihotri, originally from India, began his journey by pursuing an undergraduate degree in physiotherapy. His initial exposure to the potential of physiotherapy during a placement at an old-age facility ignited his passion for the profession. This experience laid the foundation for his remarkable career in healthcare.

2. Pursuing Excellence: The Path to Becoming an ACP

After completing his undergraduate degree in India, Deepak embarked on a new chapter by pursuing a postgraduate qualification in gait analysis and manual therapy at the University of Salford in the UK. This decision reflected his commitment to enhancing his skills and knowledge in physiotherapy.

3. Challenges and Triumphs: Securing the First Job

Securing a full-time job in the UK's healthcare system proved to be a challenging endeavor for Deepak. Despite holding an MSc and contributing to research, the job market posed significant hurdles. One major challenge he faced was the expectation of NHS experience from employers, a common barrier for international AHPs. This challenge sheds light on the need for more inclusive recruitment practices.

4. Values-Based Recruitment: A Pathway to Inclusivity

Deepak's journey emphasizes the importance of moving towards values-based recruitment rather than solely relying on knowledge-based criteria. By shifting the focus from specific healthcare systems to shared values, employers can create a more inclusive environment for international AHPs.

5. The Need for Comprehensive Information

One critical aspect that Deepak highlights is the lack of information available to international students and recruits about the NHS and how it functions. Trusts and healthcare organisations can improve the experience of overseas workers by providing comprehensive information on their websites, including explanations of healthcare terms and concepts unique to the UK.

6. Career Flexibility and Skill Utilization

Deepak's transition from one specialty to another, moving into learning disability care, underscores the value of recognizing and utilizing the diverse skills and experiences that international AHPs bring. Employing managers can benefit from increasing their awareness of the courses international AHPs have completed.

7. The Importance of Support

Deepak's journey was not just about professional growth but also personal adjustment to life in a new country. Employers can make this transition easier for international recruits by offering dedicated pastoral support, including meeting them at the airport and providing timely responses to queries.

8. Tools for Success: International Recruitment Toolkit

To enhance the experience of international AHPs, employing organizations can utilize the international recruitment toolkit and checklist available on the NHS Employers website. These resources provide a roadmap for supporting international recruits throughout their journey.

9. Building a Sense of Belonging

Employers play a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging for international AHPs. This can be achieved through professional, social, and cultural support, as well as by connecting employees from the same home country.

10. Practical Considerations

Practical aspects, such as pay cut-off dates and flexible work arrangements, need careful attention to ensure a smooth transition for international recruits. Providing appropriate supervision and support is essential to help international AHPs manage their clinical caseload and adapt to the NHS system.

Deepak Agnihotri's journey from an international student to a Training Programme Director and AHP BAME Strategic Advisor exemplifies the incredible potential and contributions that international AHPs bring to the UK's healthcare system. His insights and experiences offer valuable lessons for organizations aiming to improve the recruitment, integration, and support of international AHPs. By embracing values-based recruitment, providing comprehensive information, and offering dedicated support, healthcare employers can maximize the talents and enrich the careers of international AHPs, ultimately benefiting patients and the healthcare system as a whole.