D

Dental Nurse

How did you become interested in what you do?
Advertisment in a newspaper. I went to a careers day at Telford College. The tutor there was very helpful.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I studied for one year full time at college, I had two days day release at Edinburgh Dental Hospital and local surgery. I passed my National Certificate.

Talk us through a day in your life.
Assisting a dentist at Chairside; communicationg with patients; keeping high standards of care and hygiene in surgery.

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Nursing of some kind – yes.

What did your parents want you to do?
Care work.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Speak to someone who is aready in the job and get lots of information on all aspects of the job.

What other directions could you work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Working with additional needs and elderly clients.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
I am just disappointed in how much paperwork is involved in the job today. After years of hands-on experience, I feel there is not always enough weight given to the care side.

Doctor in Cardiology
What do you do for a living?
I am a Doctor specialising in Cardiology and am currently undertaking research into Heart Disease.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
It was always a career I was interested in but I was worried that I wouldn’t get the grades at School to allow me to apply. Fortunately I worked hard for my A-levels and applied for Medicine during my gap year after High School. The careers department at school were helpful with this.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I worked hard for my GCSE’s and A-levels at school and took a year out after high-school before starting medicine at University of Glasgow. That was a 5 year course but I also undertook another degree during my studies called a ‘BSc in Cardiovascular Sciences’, so that I was in University for 6 years. Fortunately university tuition fees were free, which was a big help. After graduation I worked for 2 years as a junior doctor, and then lived in South Africa for a year working as trauma surgeon (very similar to ‘ER’!) before returning to hospital medicine in the UK where I trained as a cardiologist for 2 more years before coming out of hospital medicine to start a 3 year PhD in Cardiology, researching Heart Failure with the British Heart Foundation. Cardiology is a very competitive speciality, and therefore some experience in Research is essential.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
Right now I get woken up by two noisy children and a dog. I go to work between 8.30am and 9am and have a very variable day. I will either be helping with CT or MRI scans of the heart, analysing pieces of heart muscle under the microscope, seeing patients in a Cardiology clinic or spending time reading and writing research papers. It’s a busy day but always interesting and sociable, and I normally finish around 6 – 7pm before heading home for a run, a session in the gym or a movie and bed! Occasionally during the weekend I work in hospitals looking after medical patients. This can be very very busy at times but is always rewarding.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
I actually applied to Biology at university at school but changed my mind when I got good grades for my exams. I always wanted to be a Doctor but I wasn’t sure about what type until I was 20 or 21.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They never put any pressure on me at all to decide. My Dad is a doctor and he was very happy and proud when I decided to study Medicine.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Social networking (Facebook, twitter etc…) is the devil and ruins concentration spans. There is life beyond the internet! And always work hard when it is required. Being a doctor doesn’t require special brains or high levels of talent, just the will to be able to knuckle down and focus when you need to, and this means you can enjoy yourself and have a good time when you don’t need to work!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
I’d be a professional surfer or a landscape gardener!

Doctor: eye surgeon
What do you do for a living?
Eye surgeon (Ophthalmologist)

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
I studied sciences at A level (highers). I was always interested in the human body and how it worked. Advice re: studying medicine came from a friends parents who were both doctors.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I did science A levels (biology, chemistry and maths). I went to medical school in London. On qualifiying I worked in SE England for a couple of years and then in Australia for a year as a junior doctor. In Australia I worked for 3 months in Ophthalmology and really enjoyed it. On returning to the UK I applied for a training post in Ophthalmology and managed to get a placement in Scotland. Further training to become an Eye Surgeon took another 10 years with many further exams etc. In my final year of training I worked in Singapore subspecialising in retinal diseases and advanced cataract surgery. On returning from Singapore I took up a Consultant Eye Surgeon post in Edinburgh.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
A mixture of working in outpatient clinics diagnosing and treating eye diseases and performing surgery on eyes in the operating theatre. Other aspects of the job involve teaching and training medical students, trainee eye surgeons, nurses and optometrists, carrying out research into eye diseases and overall management of those elements of the eye service which I am responsible for.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Medicine was my planned career at 18 but I was 27 when I realised I wanted to specialise in Eye Surgery.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
Medicine

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Spend time talking to students who are studying medicine and also to qualified doctors who can tell you what it is really like. Also voluntary work on hospital wards is good exposure. Medic insight is a project run in Edinburgh http://www.medicinsight.com/ which is a unique platform for providing information to school students about a career in medicine. It places school students with doctors in Edinburgh to shadow them for a day to see what their job entails

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
Medical journalism. Medicolegal work.

If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
Medicine is a great career with many opportunities and is a very portable job with work available in both the developed and developing world.

Doctor: GP
What do you do for a living?
I spend part of my time as a GP (General Practitioner) and the rest of my time looking after my family.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
At my school, anyone with good exam results was advised and encouraged to apply for either medicine or law. I think if left to my own devices I would have applied to do something completely different like archaeology, but I was told that both medicine and law were both good degrees which would leave me with plenty of opportunities and transferrable skills. In retrospect I think I should have stuck to my gut feeling and done the course I was most interested in rather than what other considered to be ‘best’.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
I did a medical degree at Aberdeen University which lasted for 5 years. After that I did a year of pre-registration house jobs before I was fully qualified as a doctor. I worked in Australia for a year as a junior doctor and then took several months off to travel. I’m not sure that medical careers nowadays can be this flexible.
After a break travelling I did some other medical jobs which counted towards GP training. In those days medical training was quite flexible and as long as we did the right amount of accredited jobs it didn’t matter where or when we did them. Most GP trainees will do hospital jobs in medicine, paediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gunacology and accident and emergency.
I had become more interested in ancient history and archaeology while travelling, so I managed to save up some money during these jobs and took a year off to go on an archaeological dig in France and then did an MSc in Palaeopatholgy (study of disease in ancient populations) and Funerary Archaeology at Bradford University. This was a fascinating year which I really enjoyed, which included doing research on osteoarthritis in ancient American Indians in the USA. However by the time I had finished this I had run out of money and it is difficult to make a living out of Palaeopathology!
I then did a years Research Fellowship in the Rheumatology department at Bristol University looking at the evolution of Osteoarthritis. During this time, however, my mum had become ill and I spend some time visiting her in hospital where I was reminded what a big difference a good doctor can make to patients lives. So after finishing my research I completed my GP training by spending a year as a GP registrar within a GP practice and passed my MRCGP (a postgraduate exam).
I then worked as a salaried GP in Glasgow looking after asylum seekers for 2 years. I found this a demanding but very rewarding job. I also worked voluntarily for Freedom from Torture, writing medico-legal reports for victims of torture.
After this I got married and ended up moving to Edinburgh where my husband had got a job. I did some GP locum work there and then got a place on the Retainer Scheme (part time work for GPs with small children). I have since taken several years out of work to look after my family and have recently had to do a returner scheme which involves retraining to get back to work. Working in medicine when you have small children can be a challenge, and it affected my career much more than I thought it would.

Talk me through a day in your life… what sorts of things would it involve?
A days work as a GP will probably start just before 9am. There will usually be a morning surgery where you can see 8-10 patients followed by emergency appointments. There are then referrals to make, patients to see in the cottage hospital and phone calls to make. After lunch there will be another two surgeries. You will also have to deal with repeat prescriptions and read letters and results from the hospital. Some days you will be the duty doctor when there will be a number of house visits to make, as well as dealing with any emergencies that arise within the health centre. General practice has got much busier over the last few years and most GPs will find it difficult to get time for a lunch break and will be late getting home at night between 6 and 8pm.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Really I had no idea of what being a doctor really involved when I was 18. I had some vague notions of going to work with expeditions or in developing countries.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?
My dad was very keen for me to do medicine – I think he would have liked to do it himself.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Really be sure that medicine is what you want to do. Don’t do it just because you get good grades and everyone else thinks it is a good idea. Ideally it should be a vocation – something you feel compelled to do – I think this is the case for the best doctors. It also helps to be really interested in the way the body works and how things can go wrong. It is a demanding career with long hours, tough postgraduate exams and high levels of responsibility and stress. It can also be very serious.
There are some real benefits too though – you will have some great colleagues, you will never be out of work, the salary is good and it is a privilege to be so intimately involved in other peoples lives and to do a job where you are able to help people.

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
One of the beauties of medicine is that there are a huge number of different fields to specialize in. From paediatrics to care of the elderly, psychiatry, surgery, public health, research, radiology, pathology and much more. Most doctors can find an area in which they are interested.
Even within general practice there are opportunities to expand your role, for example training other doctors, doing research, becoming involved in management or commissioning healthcare.

Doctor: Royal Navy
What do you do for a living?
Consultant Accident & Emergency Medicine & Pre-Hospital Care, NHS, Royal Navy & Royal Marines

How did you get interested in what you do?
I’d love to say it was for a noble reason, BUT I honestly think it was because the GP in my village in Oxfordshire lived in a huge house and drove a cool looking red lotus. Therefore i am ashamed to say that i must have wanted to do it for the money – aged 8…………..
I then wanted to be a doctor from aged 8 to med school entry at 18. After that i became interested in the Military, especially the Royal Marines because i loved skiing, climbing and arduous pursuits. Emergency Medicine attracted me because of the variety, excitement and the fact that it seemed to suit my personality.
I tried GP and didn’t enjoy it and think i was the wrong personality to do this.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?
Liverpool Med School 1985-1990
Short Career Commission 1990-1997 (Royal Navy & Royal Marines)
NHS 1997-2000
Full Career Commision 2000-date

Talk us through a day in your life
NHS / Edinburgh – mostly consulting patients in the A&E department. Anything from minor cuts & bruises to severe trauma (eg Pedestrian Vs car), heart attacks, severe asthma, coma, agression, psychiatric illness, confusion, drug overdoses. All the time whilst leading a team of ~ 15 junior doctors and giving on the shop floor teaching all along. Also have management, research responsibilities etc.
Afghanistan – either flying out to front line in a Chinook helicopter and picking up soldiers who have been seriously maimed (shot, blown up etc) or leading the emergency department where they are all received in the large hospital in Helmand. This involves dealing with amputations, emergency anaesthetics, emergency surgery etc

Was this your planned career when you were 18?
Don’t know. Just wanted to be a doctor at that stage BUT on 1st day of Med School met another Med Student who had already done his Commando Course and who really got me interested in doing the same thing – which I did.

What did your parents want you to do?
Be a doctor ! I was the first in the family.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
Work hard at school ! There’s great variety in Medicine and many opportunities to suit all. HOWEVER, don’t expect the job to be the same one you entered when you’ve spent 10-20 years in it. It’s amazing how much it changes.

What other career directions could you go in?
Higher medical management in the MOD or NHS. However, i prefer continuing to see patients and get very frustrated with the immense bureaucracy of these 2 mammoth organisations.

Anything you have not covered about your area of expertise?
I am a (self appointed) world expert (!!) in the subject of Tension Pneumothorax with over 20 publications in international medical journals. This is where a collapsed lung places increasing pressure on the heart until the person dies – unless a doctor puts a hole into the chest wall in time. I am working with the American College of Surgeons to change the world recognised trauma teaching course that they wrote 20 years ago – because it’s teaching on this particular subject is wrong