Three Months in…

…and I still can’t quite believe I’ve now been officially paid for being a doctor. I thought that once I’d finished med school I’d lose that “They must have got it wrong” feeling; but no I still look over my shoulder thinking that someone is going to tell me I shouldn’t be here.

I’ve been trying to muster up the energy to write for weeks now, but I can never seem to bring myself to just sit with my thoughts. I think its because I’ve been a little overwhelmed. Not because of the job in itself, but because of everything else that has come with starting work. Moving, finding yourself, worrying that you’re doing it wrong. When you finish medical school you envisage the hoop jumping to be over, but in reality its only just beginning and now you have far less time to get through all the hoops. Prescribed reflection, extra courses, papers to write, projects to complete and your normal day job to get through. It’s exhausting. Some days I look at friends in other professions and wonder if I did the right thing… surely a standard 9 – 5pm would be much better? But then you meet patients that make all the frustration disappear.  Patients who are grateful for the effort you put in, patients who ask how you are, patients who’s stories amaze you… thats when I realise, nope a regular 9 – 5pm would not be for me. In the last 3 months, I’ve achieved more than I realised I was capable of, I know more than I thought I knew and I have seen things that have continued to feed my passion for medicine. I have assisted in theatre, had a go at some surgical procedures, taught students, applied for positions within committees and continued to work towards my career goals.

Coupled with this, I have moved away from the place I know as home. I am no longer a 20 minute drive away from family and friends. A struggle I didn’t realise I would encounter; I had thought I would cope with the distance a lot better than I have. I miss the safety blanket of being able to ‘pop’ home for a cuppa, or for cuddles with my niece and nephew. The ability to call up friends and arrange last minute dinner/coffee dates; we don’t have that here yet. However, the move is good… both socially and professionally. There are opportunities that come with living in a city that you just don’t get living elsewhere. But we didn’t get an automatic group of friends, we’re still trying to establish ourselves and get that network of support that we have back home… New people, new hospitals, new demands… its daunting. Don’t get me wrong, I love working here and living here. But in those moments after a long day at work, I often wish I could have those home comforts of someone familiar near by.

It is hard, hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone and there’s much I need to tell you about work, city life and comfort zones… but for now I’m just checking in until I can write again.

Now its real…

On the 1st Wednesday of August every year, the new FY1s are thrown into the fold graduating from ‘medical student on placement’ to ‘Doctor who works here’. After 4 years of longingly watching those in the years above going through it, now my time has come… I’m terrified.

The last few days have been fraught with induction information, bombarded with booklets, passwords and pieces of papers; frantically trying to remember every tiny bit of information so not to make fools of ourselves when August 1st comes. I’d like to say these sessions put me at ease… but unfortunately not. I’m left more confused and more afraid of the responsibility that is heading my way. Where’s radiology? How do I request scans? Whats the surgical etiquette here? What are the access codes? Where are the loo’s? How do I bleep someone? Where do you keep the notes? How are the beds numbered? Who do I ask for this or that?

All these seemingly insignificant or miniature details float around my head and build into a wall that renders me useless. What if my consultant thinks I’m rubbish? What if the team don’t like me? What if…? What if…? The doubts that I’d battled through med school resurfacing, worrying that their going to realise they made a mistake… I know, I know this is irrational that we’re all in the same boat, but at the moment I’m allowing myself to worry. I’m sure after the first few weeks, the first on call, the first set of nights these anxieties will ease.

All the FY1s taking the leap from medical school (after some time away from placement) to working, trying to remember if we know how to cannulate, take bloods etc. We are all in the same boat, for now we just need to get to know each other, support each other and face FY1 head first.

Almost Dr.

Once again, unsurprisingly, its been a while. Finals came and went, the numerous tick boxes of final year checked and the days of placement crossed off the calendar. All in the hopes that you get to hear those words “You did it!”

In just over a week I graduate with the title ‘Dr‘ – stand with all my colleagues and say the Hippocratic Oath. I cannot believe that day is almost here; more so I cannot believe that only two days after I cross that stage in a cap and gown, I’ll venture onto the wards and say “Hi my name is Rebecca, I’m one of the doctors on the team looking after you.” It astounds me, something I’d convinced myself might never happen. At the moment I’m in a weird limbo, people I love call me ‘doctor’ a proud exclamation, congratulating me on finally making it through; forms I fill in for bills, banks etc ask for my title and I wonder what I should put… I’m not a doctor yet. Yes, the hoops have all been jumped and the exams have been passed with graduation just around the corner… but my registration doesn’t start yet. It feels weird to refer to myself as a doctor, to agree to the title when I haven’t started work yet. It feels weird to suddenly go from ‘Miss…’ to ‘Dr…’ leaving the title I’ve had for the last 25 years on the shelf! Hopefully as the months continue it’ll feel less odd.

But first I need to make the move – I’m leaving the comforts of home, to disappear across the border into a big city. It terrifies me, leaving the people I love my friends and family; to a system I have no experience in, in a hospital I have never set foot it. It’s scary. But it’s also exciting – I get to move to a new city with my other half and start doing the job I have longed to do. It will be worth it, and everyone will be in the same position as I… we hopefully we’ll all stick together and support each other through. Until then – I’m packing, sorting, filling out forms, inductions and generally fumbling through; this ‘holiday’ time has been full of ‘to-dos’ and I cant wait for a few days to just relax before the chaos ensues.

I promise I won’t leave it so long this time. Speak to you soon.

Why Paediatrics?

A post I wrote a while ago about why I want to do Paediatrics – it was featured on a blog called ‘Beyond the Tickbox’ but thats no longer there so I thought I’d publish it here.

What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Just like Daddy, a teacher, a ballerina, a gymnast, a doctor, a sportswoman. – Sophia, 8 years old

The list continues; from a very young age we are quizzed and questioned about our future career choices. For some the original idea sticks, but for most the idea changes. In medicine from the moment we begin the course we are quizzed and questioned just as we were when we were young. What kind of doctor do you want to be? Again, often many answers ensue, so many times we are told that we will change our mind over and over again. For me, Paediatrics has sat in my mind as the speciality I want to progress into ever since I knew I wanted to be a doctor.

Medicine has been a firm choice in my mind since the age of 13 when we had to think about what GCSE’s we were going to do; prior to that it had floated in my mind as an option but so had ‘Animator for Pixar‘, how things change. Paediatrics followed not long after, when everyone kept asking about what speciality I wanted to do, I was 13 (who know’s at 13). At the time my choice was largely based on my love of children; I enjoyed helping out with younger children in school, teaching netball, babysitting. But it was a decision made without much research and thought, it was based purely on ‘I like children‘, I was a child myself what did I know. However it stuck, and at the age of  14, when a good friend of mine became ill my desire to become a doctor and a paediatrician grew even stronger.

Chloe, has been a massive influence in my desire to study medicine, and even more so paediatrics. As much as I didn’t realise at the time, the idea of being someone who could help children like my friend was something that drove me. For a long period of time I wanted to become a Paediatric Oncologist, I wanted to be able to help, I wanted to be able to be part of the fight against cancer and be there with a smile on my face to support children and their families in their battle. When Chlo lost her own battle, this only drove me further into Paediatrics and I began to research the specialty further.

This continued into medical school, and as soon as I got here when asked ‘What speciality do you want to go into?’  paediatrics is the top of my list, however I am open to the idea’s of other specialities with further sub-specialisation into paeds. Throughout medical school my desire to study paediatrics has only grown, I am fascinated by the resilience of children and their positivity. So often children face challenges with a smile on their face as if nothing is wrong and they are not ill. It amazes me how children can go from being oh so poorly, to running around happily the next day. The challenges of communication with children is something that I revel in, I enjoy interacting with children as their equal. Sitting on the floor, playing with them to try and find out how they are feeling or what could be wrong is a skill I am desperate to master. Parents pose a further challenge within Paediatrics and is another aspect of the specialty that attracts me to it. You have to both interact with the child, treating them as your equal but also allow the parents to feel at ease in your knowledge and skills.

Finally, the sense of support and comradery within Paediatrics is something that makes me love the specialty further. During my time at medical school and in my endeavour to set up a Paediatric Society at my university has given me an insight into paediatrics through consultants and trainee’s; all of which have been nothing but supportive. A common theme from all I speak with.

I may have a couple of years to go, but I’m still positive that Paediatrics will play a role in my career in some way. Be that directly into the specialty, or sub-specialising through another specialty, my life will involve Paediatrics in some way.

“…children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance.” – Ishmael Beah


Not long now…

15 days to finals.

It’s been a while… Time often is discussed within my musings and is something that I lose more frequently than I’d care to admit. My brain wanders, getting lost in the promise of the future, planning projects or journeys that I’d like to make; whiling away time, oblivious. But as finals draw closer, I’m acutely aware of how little time I have. Soon, if all goes well, I’ll have successfully completed my last set of medical school exams and I will be beginning work in a new city, moving in with the person I love, and I’ll be a doctor. Which is terrifyingly exciting!

Medical school has been a long, but exciting journey. I’ve learnt more about myself than I realised I would; I now know who I am, and what’s important to me. I’ve understood the importance of being ready; as previously discussed, my 17 year old self was devastated that I ‘wasn’t good enough’, but now I know that I just wasn’t ready and that life had a different path laid out… I will strive to no longer place my worth on exam results, but on how I am as a human. I am determined on achieving the best I can in the things that I love. But mostly, I am driven to look after myself more than I have given myself time for in the past… the last few years have left a bitter taste of anxiety and low mood. It’s taken me far too long to notice it, but now, I hope for change and looking after myself in the lead up to (and post) finals is the most important thing I can do. Better late than never ‘ey?


“Hello, my name is Rebecca. I’m a final year medical student”

Tomorrow marks the start of (hopefully) my final academic year, and I’m not sure I completely believe it. 11 years have gone by since I told myself that I would one day be a doctor, and now… we’re 11 months from that being a reality.

The path to this point has by no means been an easy one. I’ve broken, lost myself, crumbled under the strain of it all… picked up the pieces and made myself into the woman I am today. I’m not that 17 year old applying for med school, and I am thankful for that. She was naive, unable to face rejection, allowing herself to feel less than she was worth… all for a university place. If only she had known who she would become, who she would meet along the way… maybe things would have taken a different turn. Now, the 24 year old me is by no means ‘perfect’, I still allow myself to feel small, and less than myself, doubting my abilities and my sanity… trust me I’m working on it..It’s easy for me to sit here and say ‘everything happens for a reason’, ‘I wouldn’t change the way I did med school for the world’, because that is the way it has happened. I have no idea what undergraduate medicine would be like. But what I do know is that despite the overwhelming fear that lingers in the back of my mind, I am much more prepared now, to be a doctor, than I would have been had I begun med school at 18. Not for the knowledge I have gained, but for the experiences I have had.

I may not be able to change the way it happened, but I am so glad it happened this way. The next 11 months are going to fly by, just like the last 11 and I want to savour it.

15 weeks ’til finals, 31 weeks ’til elective, 47 weeks ’til graduation and 48 ’til I become Dr Jones. Final year – I’m ready for you.


Letter to Summer | # 4

As usual when I come back to this I’m astounded by how long I’ve managed to leave it before writing. Life has consumed me: work, uni, placement, work, sleep. It feel like I’ve been on go since December and no-one has hit stop yet.

Now this isn’t me trying to blame anyone for my crazy life; it’s all my doing. I do it to myself; I like to keep myself busy but I need to learn when to say no. Two nights a week I work, two nights I play netball, the remaining three get filled with dinners, other to-do’s and work wanting me to work more. It feels like it never stops. On top of that I decided it would be a good idea to organise a conference, write some case reports and submit abstracts. My foot has been on the accelerator, and I don’t know when I’m going to get to let it go. Exams have been and gone, and once again (as always) are fast approaching and summer, you’ve all but gone.

Recently I’ve taken a step back to attempt to look at myself and my life. The factors that make me, me; the pros and the cons of myself. Now this isn’t some self deprecating post, it’s purely and exercise to try and help my understand my own mind. So often do I worry and panic that I’m a bad friend or terrible human for no reason at all. I am trying to get into the workings of my brain to understand what makes me anxious and sad, why I end up feeling the way I do. I hope that the more I explore this, the less anxious I’ll become and more at ease I’ll be. It’s never going to be easy, it’s tough to break a habit of a lifetime.

So summer – as your comforting embrace leaves us once more for the final time (hopefully) before I am officially Dr Jones; just know that by next year I should be more at ease.

R x

Letter to Summer | #3


It only feels like yesterday that I was comforted by your warm embrace, but time been snatched away from us and exams have drawn themselves closer. Now your friend winter is nipping at our toes, discouraging an escape from bed. Frost begins to grace the windows, breath making itself known, scarves and gloves reappearing from their hideaway.

Since you left us Autumn has been caring for us, don’t you worry. In the last moments of your visit, a wedding occurred and you gifted us glorious sunshine. I can’t believe I’m already at the point where my best friends are getting married and starting to settle down in their lives. I have at least two more summers of student-hood before life even starts to settle; entering my 6th year of student life plays its own strange tricks. To me it feels like I’m stuck in a limbo between wanting to be an ‘adult’ making steps to buy and decorate my own home, but being restricted by the lack of income that comes with student life. Only a few more visits from you, before hopefully, this would be a reality. I’m sure we’ll talk again…

Two placements, have been and gone in your disappearance; both of which only made me beg to return to your warmth. All I can hope is the next round are more worthwhile; and that the exam that precedes them does not throw them into a disarray… Summer, why couldn’t you stay longer, delaying the stress and worry? Your retreat has also resulted in a slowing of exercise, which only adds to the angst. With the decrease in warmth, comes an increase in work, increase in stress and decrease in time. Lack of time, means lack of motivation or room to run… Throwing me into a cycle of madness, feeling guilty for not running but then guilty for taking the time to run. Once again Summer, this is where I crave for your presence.

Like most things we only appreciate your presence when you’re gone… I’m sure I’ll write again, but until then, I look forward to your return…


Why Paediatrics? A Medical Student’s View — beyond the tick box

A lovely bunch of Paediatrician’s featured me on their blog… happy Reb 🙂

What do you want to be when you grow up? Just like Daddy, a teacher, a ballerina, a gymnast, a doctor, a sportswoman. – Sophia, 8 years old The list continues; from a very young age we are quizzed and questioned about our future career choices. For some the original idea sticks, but for most the […]

via Why Paediatrics? A Medical Student’s View — beyond the tick box

Results day

5 years ago today, I walked solemnly up to my school to collect my A level results. I knew I hadn’t achieved what I was expected, I hadn’t put the effort in I needed to put in and I had given up. All because four medical schools perceived that I was ‘not up to standard’. I had let the opinion of strangers define me and allow me to feel less than I was.

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Had I risen above their opinions and strove to prove them wrong, smashing my A levels, taking a year out and reapplying for medicine, life would have travelled down a very different path. But I didn’t, I let them ‘defeat’ me, ABBCa. I couldn’t reapply, I couldn’t re-sit (I was told that medical schools wouldn’t accept re-sits), I resigned myself to the thought that the dream of becoming a doctor was dead. Biology teacher, that’s what I’ll do; or maybe I’ll emigrate, go teach scuba diving abroad. I let them make me feel like I was worthless.

But 5 years later, on A level results day, I sit writing up notes for medical school ready for my third year with a 2.1 degree in Biology in my back pocket. I made it. Eventually, the voice inside my head that told me that medicine was a pointless venture and ‘if they don’t want you, why should you want them’, caved. Who had I been kidding? I realised, I was afraid of rejection again; afraid that once again I would be told that I was ‘not up to standard’. But medicine was the dream, all I had ever wanted to be, I had to give it a shot. So I studied and I worked to gain as much experience as I could within the world of medicine to improve my chances of getting in. It worked, I got in. This time I didn’t allow my fear of rejection, stop me from achieving what I wanted; or let the opinion of strangers influence my choices.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. – The Princess Diaries

If you are currently sat, wondering why you bothered with A levels, or believing that your chosen career is nothing but a pipe dream. I want you to know that nothing is impossible. Don’t let the fear of rejection or it being a tough road stop you from achieving what you want to achieve. You have done fantastically to get to this point. Don’t let one, or two, or ten, blips in the road stop you. If you want something, don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t.

When you’re following your inner voice, doors tend to eventually open for you, even if they mostly slam at first. – Kelly Cutrone, If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You