How to become an Offshore Medic – Part 3
So, after reading Part 2 of the guide, you finally have your shiny new offshore certificates! Ummmm what now, Batman? Get a job obviously!
Getting your first trip
I don’t think I can stress this next bit enough…
YOUR FIRST TRIP IS ALL IMPORTANT!
Even if it is just a five day trip where you are covering for a sick medic, offshore experience is essential. I have been in many situations where a platform desperately needed a stand in medic. The HR department sends out a raft of CVs and the first thing the OIM (Offshore Installation Manager – the boss) asks is, “Have they been offshore?” If the answer is no, then he won’t be interested. No matter how well qualified you are and no matter how suitable you look to be, an OIM will almost always take the person with offshore experience.
Now this is the important bit – they rarely ask “How long have they been offshore?” This is why getting even a short ad-hoc trip is so important – it increases your employability significantly.
But then we get to the age old question of “How do I get experience if they will only take experienced folk?” Firstly, get your CV out to every agency and company you can find (check the links page again). The trick is, at first, to accept any job that is thrown your way. Even if it’s only a one off trip on a platform you have heard bad things about, take it. Even if you think the timing is a bit inconvenient, take it. Even if it is going to mean missing a birthday/Christmas/Wedding, take it. In fact Christmas and New Year are really good times to get agency work as a lot of medics can come down with sudden ‘illnesses’ at that time of year. I have known of medics who thought they could pick and choose their jobs from the start. 18 months after qualifying (and £3000 to £4000 down) they still hadn’t been offshore. The other nice thing about taking those little ad-hoc trips is that the wages help repay the money you laid out for the course. Even if you decide you hate the job, a couple of two-week trips should see you make your money back.
The point is, get offshore experience no matter how short the job is.
If you decide to stick with it, then those little trips will soon give you the currency with which you can pick and choose your jobs. You may also find a platform where you fit right in and they decide to take you on permanently. I got one of my best jobs so far that way. I went on to provide medical cover for 3 weeks and ended up staying 3 years.
The only exception to taking any job regards seasickness. If looking at a duck-pond gets you all green and queasy, stay away from Support Vessels (Dive Ships and Pipe Layers) and FPSOs (Floating Production & Storage Offshore). An FPSO is a converted tanker that stays in one place. I am on one as I write this – the Heave is about 18 meters and we are rolling about 5 degrees to Port and 4 to Starboard. Motion Sickness sufferers beware! Another problem is that those weather conditions meant the helicopter couldn’t land – so I am stuck here for an extra day. It’s somewhat different to missing the half past five bus and having to get the six o’clock one instead!
Other benefits to starting out with an agency is you get to see lots of different installations. No two platforms are the same. Even if two installations are run by the same company, the medic’s job will be subtly different on each one. The experience you will get through this will definitely help you out at some point in your career. Even places I have hated working have taught me one or two useful things (like how to stop rolling from side-to-side in bed during bad weather!)
So hopefully that answers any questions you might have about how to go about following this particular career path. If there’s anything I have missed, or if there is something else you would like to know, feel free to Like us on Facebook and ask your questions there!