Personal Views

The wrong job at the wrong time

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 27 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:821
  1. Pippa Keech, clinical assistant and research fellow
  1. London

    When I was young I wanted to be a doctor. At 18, unlike some of my medical school colleagues who hailed from medical families, I had no realistic idea of what being a doctor meant. I admired and respected my parents' hard work as teachers and throughout my school years their working hours and holidays seemed similar to mine. My motivation to do medicine was based on wanting to please and impress them, together with a naive conviction that my enjoyment at visiting a local geriatric ward and cheering up the residents signalled a wider need to be indispensable to the sick and needy. I liked the vocational idea of medicine—other degrees seemed vague and open ended. But a recent failed attempt at being a partner in general practice has forced me to question my choice.

    High quality career guidance was never in plentiful supply. At school the career guide suggested ergonomics, which puzzled me then and puzzles me still. At medical school I recall a “women in medicine” meeting where two women doctors told us their stories. When asked how to combine medicine with looking after a family, the first doctor intimated that she had dropped her babies so effortlessly and with so little upheaval that she was back at work faster than a male colleague with back pain. The second and older …

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