Rayna King is a British nurse who has worked in the UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia. She first travelled to Saudi Arabia in 2012 to work at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital. She then returned to Saudi in 2018 and is now working in the King Abdulaziz Medical City.
Given that I’ve worked at both the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre (KFSH&RC) and the King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC) I feel I can really compare the two. Although I didn’t work in ICU at KFSH so I can’t really comment on that. however from my understanding of talking to friends at KFSH, the ICU nurses regularly have more than one patient per shift whereas at KAMC it is very rare for us to have more than one patient, even during the peak of COVID.
I currently work on a Trauma ICU however we don’t actually receive as much trauma as I was originally hoping for. My unit is actually doubling in size and therefore staff, in the next few months, we are moving to a brand new unit that has been designed for us and as staff we have had input as to what we would like in the unit and we are now going to be the Respiratory ICU.
Regards to support, I have always felt 100% supported at work from everyone I work with, the whole team and management. Since the pandemic this has been more so, and the support I have had from my manager and director has been unbelievable. Although there has been some pretty terrible days (which has been experienced globally), I have never gone into work dreading what was to come as I know that we’re well supported. This has included working as a unit to create solutions to ensure we didn’t run out of PPE. We also changed the way we looked after our patients, including moving as much equipment outside the room (eg IV infusion pumps) to reduce the amount of times we actually go into patient rooms. This also minimised direct contact with COVID patients (which was what our manager wanted to reduce our personal risks).
We also held regular team meetings, including with our director, so we can voice our concerns. My manager even set up a “de-stress room” for us with a massage chair, relaxing music, lighting and scented air humidifier so we could take some time out during our shift to get off the unit for a while. Although work is good, you know yourself, it’s only really a small part of life in Saudi.
Now the housing. That was a massive improvement on the KFSH accommodation. It has everything that you need in the villa, but a little trip to IKEA will have it looking more homely. I live in a two bedroomed villa and I’ve been living alone for the last year as I have a colleague from home who was hoping to come out before the pandemic struck, so I was able to contact housing and have the spare room reserved for her. I have the master suite which is massive. I have a big kitchen, massive dining room and 2 living rooms. The second bedroom is also big and has a bathroom next to it. There is also what they call a maids room which has a shower room attached (this room will never be used as staff accommodation so makes great for a storage room) and another guest toilet.
I also have a really good garden, which I’ve decorated really well, so it’s great for having BBQ’s. I currently seem to be the head of hosting amongst my group of friends and had a BBQ with about 20 friends at the weekend. Also in the accommodation we can have both male and female guests visit, we do have a curfew of midnight during the week and 2am at weekends but it tends to be not too much of an issue. The rest of the compound is good, we have a basic but decent gym. It has everything that we need in it and we have 2 decent swimming pools and the kids shaded pool. There’s tennis courts and squash courts also. It’s nice to be able to live on a mixed compound I think, as sometimes when it’s all girls it can be just a bit too much!
Life in Saudi has changed so much since I was here the first time in 2012. I don’t usually wear an abaya (traditional Saudi dress) when I go places now. Obviously I know some places that are a bit more traditional and out of respect, and to avoid glares, I pop one on. There’s no issues with going out with people of the opposite sex for dinner and coffee, no one even gives you a second look these days. Pre COVID there was concerts on, sporting events etc, so hopefully we will get back to that again sometime.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the crazy driving, however, I took the plunge and I actually got my driving license which was relatively easy for how things work in Saudi. Although I’m not going to buy a car, it’s nice to be able to hire one every now and then and get out of the city, or simply just do all my running around without having to use a driver. The rental prices are so cheap, from my experience it’s been 75-100SAR/day ($27AUD-$36AUD/day*) and a full tank of petrol is about 60SAR ($60AUD*). It’s just nice to have the freedom to get out and about when I want.
I can honestly say I’m having a great time here, obviously I can’t wait for international flights to resume for holidays and to see my loved ones, but life is pretty good here and I have such a great group of friends who are like a second family. With anything in life, you only get out what you put in, but the rewards can be great if you put the effort in.
*prices subject to exchange rates as of 21/09/2020
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