I read out the Hypocratic Oath for my medical school graduation ceremony which was pretty cool.
Tell us about yourself – just a few sentences to introduce yourself.
I am a respiratory consultant working in Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust with a subspecialty interest in respiratory failure and ventilation. I completed my pre-clinical medical school at Cambridge University, my clinical years at GKT (now King’s College, London) and have just completed my MD (Res) at Imperial College, London. Outside of medicine, I have two children, love football, am a proud and obsessive environmentalist and was world pea throwing champion in 2012. I was the fourth child in my family to go to Wellington, in the days when girls were an abused minority, which certainly helped with my resilience skills.
What inspired you to work in medicine?
Perhaps uninterestingly I have always had a strong vocational drive to be a doctor, and have never really considered any other career. I don’t come from a medical family and never even particularly knew any doctors growing up, but Ive always loved science and chatting to people so knew that medicine was for me, even when everyone was trying to deter me into more financially lucrative options! Not to sound like too much of a cliche I also love learning, so to have a career in which postgraduate research is the norm, for me, has been brilliant. I have recently completed my MD (Res) which allowed me the opportunity to learn coding to complete a big data analysis in Cystic Fibrosis, research which I presented and won various prizes for national and internationally. I still cant believe that I have a job in which I was allowed to complete a postgraduate degree in statistics (Mr Rowlinson will never, ever believe that).
What does it mean to you to be a respiratory consultant?
I am so fortunate to love my job. Every single day is different, every patient is different and my days are so varied between carrying out procedures or running clinics, lecturing at the university and seeing acutely unwell inpatients. I am surrounded by dedicated and intelligent colleagues, which makes my working day inspirational and challenging. I have always been incredibly driven by a sense of purpose, so I feel genuinely satisfied at the end of my working day that I have achieved something worthwhile (I hope) for my patients.
What made you decide to specialise as a respiratory consultant?
I knew I wanted to specialise in respiratory medicine whilst still at medical school as I love the mix of acute and chronic disease, complex pathologies and physiology and the combination of outpatient, procedural and inpatient work which makes up my working day. I specialise in ventilatory failure and non-invasive ventilation following several years working in intensive care and ventilation centres, but still see lots of general respiratory medicine, so my work is very varied. I chose to work at Brighton as I have always been interested in medical education so wanted to work somewhere with a medical school attached. I also sit on various committees within the respiratory national group, British Thoracic Society (BTS), writing national guidelines which makes for an interesting alternative to direct patient work. Respiratory doctors are also really friendly (we think) so I knew they were the colleagues I wanted for the future.
How did you get to where you are today?
As for most people, a combination of hard-work and luck.
What advice would you give to students/young OWs who would like to join the medical profession?
If you want to do it, do it. But want to do it! Dont focus on what being a junior doctor is like, as that is such a brief time in the grand scheme of things, think about what your working day will be like ten years down the line. If you like variety and working in teams I cannot imagine any better job. There is so much scope to individualise your career depending on your interests and skills.
What is it like working within health care at the moment?
Morale in the NHS was really low following years of austerity and poor funding. The tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic has actually been a real blessing for healthcare. Not only are hospital and community teams working together more than ever, but also within the hospital surgeons and medics are now all working side-by-side. There has been such a drive to develop management pathways and strategies quickly that it really has felt like my entire trust has never worked harder or more efficiently for a common goal. I have always felt proud of my job, but it can feel difficult to remember that when you are working long hours and weekends and missing out on lots of the fun times that your non-medical friends are having. I know that anything I have sacrificed in the past has definitely been worth it.
Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington that you would like to share or perhaps a particular teacher that really stood out?
I had a brilliant time at Wellington as I have always enjoyed trying my hand at lots of varied extra-curricular activities, and there was just so much to do. I really enjoyed the sport and plays/choirs (although less-so chamber choir), and of course nightwalking. I still think of it very fondly like a two year long summer camp, albeit one in which yogurt was randomly thrown at you . Richard Williams (biology) was the best teacher I have ever had, he was fun and engaging and incredibly knowledgeable. Whenever I am teaching I try and replicate some of his enthusiasm, diligence and will forever wish I could draw as well as him.