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Shetland Trainee Stories


Shetland Trainee Stories

Shetland – the land of cool beauty and the people with the warmest hearts.

NHS Shetland – Make Shetland your next career move

Rise to the challenge and enjoy the opportunity to join NHS Shetland. Becoming an “Island Medic” is a job like no other. Not only will you get a chance to work in one of the UK's most rugged and beautiful communities, you will get the opportunity to work in a busy healthcare environment where true “generalism” is practiced on a day to day basis.

The Gilbert Bain is a busy Remote and Rural Island hospital providing healthcare to it 22,000 inhabitants as well as visitors and North Sea workers. There is an A&E department, medical and surgical wards, a two bedded critical care area as well as a 6 bedded consultant led maternity unit. The work is varied and trainees are exposed to a breath of emergency and elective medical presentations under the supervising eye of the consultant in charge.

There are a number of training opportunities available on Shetland - Foundation Years 1 and 2, Core Surgical Training, Internal Medical Training as well as Rural Tract GP training schemes. Rotas are designed to meet each trainee's curricular requirements and are working time compliant. Shetland training posts are often found in the top 2% of all Scotland training posts with supervision and work life balance quoted as key benefits of living and working in Shetland. Trainees enjoy the varied work and the ability to provide continuity of care to their patients from admission to discharge.

Whether you plan to become a GP or a hospital specialist, undertaking a remote and rural job brings real personal and career benefits - you will get to practise medicine in a place where you have to rely on your clinical acumen rather than tests, you get to know your patients and gain a real understanding that healthcare sits at the heart of the community.

Outside work, Shetland is a wonderful place to live with 1,679 miles of coastline and many beautiful unspoiled beaches.  Shetland is a great place for a real adventure – an archipelago primed for hiking, active adventures and wild swimming.

If you are interested in finding out more about remote and rural medicine please do get in touch:


Trainee Stories

My name is Stanislava Ivanova and I have completed my Internal Medicine Stage One Training in the North of Scotland Deanery. I would love to tell you about my fantastic experience during my six-months rotation in Shetland.

Going to Shetland was the best thing that has ever happened to me in my career so far. It was an amazing opportunity for my career development, has helped me grow not only as a clinician but also helped my personal development and overall is definitely the best time I have had in my three years of Internal Medical Training.

I am embarrassed to admit that I had my doubts about my allocation for the six-month rotation in Shetland as an IMT3. I was worried about relocation, travelling expenses, opportunities to improve my clinical portfolio, passing my PACES exam and ultimately going to an island I know very little of.  In a hindsight, all of these worries now seem silly and this is why I really cannot emphasise enough that Shetland has a lot to offer and will be an invaluable experience for any medical doctor!

Dr Wilson has been my educational supervisor for my IMT3 year and was very kind to meet me in advance and help put my worries to rest. Looking back, I feel my anxiety was completely unfounded and this is why I want to tell you all about my fantastic experience in Shetland:

Fearing the unknown, maybe wondering if you will manage with the local lingo, or wondering if you will find a circle of friends?

Shetland is the most welcoming place I have ever been to! People from the island are very friendly and the hospital team is the best team I have had the honour to be part of! The doctors and nurses in Gilbert Bain Hospital embody the true meaning of team spirit. They are very supportive and welcoming! Everyone makes friends quickly and in no time you will be invited to home gatherings, team building events and fun adventures with your new friends around Shetland. I have been so welcomed in this team that by the second month there they started to feel more like family than just colleagues.

Do you love sports or outdoors activities? Maybe you are worried that there would not be many interesting activities to get involved in? Or maybe you enjoy fine dining and keeping up with the latest cinema arrivals?

Shetland is very beautiful place with lots to offer to everyone. From lovely walks amongst amazing scenery and rich wild life (you can see seals at the beach on your way to Tesco!) or sailing trips and observing the wonderful bird life (the fun puffins and gannets) to the beauty of Aurora borealis and the most amazing sunrises and sunsets. You can do a lot of hill climbing, sea swimming – yes, even I, a Bulgarian ventured into this! As for the food – Shetland does not disappoint! The best fish and chips and fantastic local desserts are some of the many treats you will discover in Shetland. There may not be the widest variety of restaurants, but certainly they are of great quality. What I found absolutely amazing was also the hospital canteen food – simply delicious and very well priced.


The Accommodation

You will love your wee flat just next to the Sletts - a natural rock platform has been cut and shaped by the sea to create a natural pier or jetty on the shore of Brei Wick in Lerwick. The flats are comfortable, warm, you get a cleaning service, and they are just across the street from Gilbert Bain Hospital and within walking distance of the town and shops.



The ferry is very reliable and offers a fantastic service on board. You can take your car (very useful if you want to explore the more remote sites of the island). Flying is also an option and you will really enjoy the beautiful views from up above. There is a travelling expenses budget that is very reasonable and will cover your visiting trips to the mainland.

The actual medical experience is simply invaluable!

I came to Shetland as an IMT3 trainee – it was my very first rotation as a medical registrar! The team was very supportive to help me develop my skills in this new role and develop independence in my clinical practice. I have been able to lead my own clinics (registrar-led clinics), all of the consultants are very encouraging and help you improve your medical knowledge and skills and enhance your portfolio. By the end of my rotation, I had managed to complete pretty much all the requirements of the IMT3 portfolio curriculum! This shows the level of support and help I have had with my personal development. Dr Wilson is an amazing mentor and the best educational supervisor I could have ever wished for!

I am personally interested in cardiology so I was very well supported by the Gilbert Bain hospital team to get more exposure relevant to my pursuit of a career in cardiology field. Dr Amorgianos and Sean Thuis, cardiac physiologist, and their team were very supportive and there I have managed to run my own cardiology clinic lists, do some echocardiogram scans and implant a reveal device. It was an invaluable experience! This is a great example of how the team tries to support you in your career development.

Island medicine is unique and offers you exposure to challenging medical scenarios. You will improve your skills in the general acute take and will leave the island with a much improved medical knowledge as well as organisational and team-working skills. To give you some examples - I have been involved in the management of shocked patients, polytrauma patients, patients with life-threatening asthma attacks requiring intubation and island evacuation, arrhythmia cases and I have thrombolysed patients with acute STEMI. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to rotate to Shetland as it has tremendously improved my clinical practice!

Passing membership exams is a worry for any doctor facing PACES. I have been extremely lucky to rotate to Shetland as the team there were very helpful with my practice preparation, and particularly Dr David Fryer, to whom I will be forever grateful for all the time and support he given me!

Shetland has been fantastic for my professional development – this rotation helped me develop not only my medical skills but also my soft skills and become really independent with my clinical practice.

In conclusion, I cannot recommend enough having a Shetland rotation as an IMT3 trainee! This rotation has been not only a fantastic experience for my career, but also gave me the opportunity to work with an amazing team of people and enjoy the beauty and wonderful wildlife of one of the most amazing destinations in the world!


Stanislava Ivanova, IMT3

I am an ST6 in Acute and General Medicine in the North Deanery, and had an eight week placement in Shetland in July and August 2022. I chose to go to Shetland as my training programme includes an interest in remote and rural medicine, and I wanted to gain more experience of working in this environment. 

It was an excellent training opportunity, as I was exposed to a very wide range of presentations in the A+E. There was an emphasis on managing patients as an outpatient where possible, and making decisions around this was challenging and rewarding. For one day per week I was first on call for Medicine for 24 hours. This experience, with calls at home and through the night, was a great opportunity to get used to this pattern of working under the supervision of the on call Consultant. Outside the Hospital my family and I had a brilliant time exploring Shetland, and were made to feel really at home by everyone in the community. Altogether it was a brilliant summer!


Hamish Myers, ST6 in Acute Medicine in Highland

As an internal medical trainee having done no general practice or emergency department work, I had been spoiled by the luxury of always having a senior filter in the decision making process especially with discharges. So having to be the senior on call for the whole hospital, initially seemed a daunting task.

But from the moment I landed on the runway strip that allowed for normal cars to drive over, with views that would beggar belief even in Tolkien’s world, I knew I was in for a treat. Not only were the staff extremely warm and welcoming, everyone you met from the local pubs to the leisure centre were keen to host you and show everyone a good time.

The learning experience was really what made me not want to leave. In one weekend, I was the lead to thrombolyse a pulmonary embolism, MI and an ischaemic stroke. Even though it is small population, it has a large sea based out reach (summer time cruise ships, off shore oil and gas workers etc), which added to the variety of cases I’d managed to come across - from complex neurology to congenital paediatrics; extremely unpredictable, extremely interesting.

The consultants and other health care staff are very supportive and are easy to contact at all hours of the day, so you’re never left alone to feel out of your depth. They also live in close proximity to the hospital which makes on site support also a straight forward option. In hindsight the biggest gain I’ve had from 6 months in Shetland is confidence. I’ve become more self assured with decision making and more comfortable in making diagnoses based on clinical presentation.

I’d highly recommend working in Gilbert Bain Hospital and looking forward to the next time I’ll be there.

Sarathy IMY3

Shetland Trainee Stories