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How not to get bored mid-career

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 22 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2274
  1. Kathy Oxtoby, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK
  1. kathyoxtoby{at}

For some, professional life begins when they reach their goal of becoming a consultant or GP partner, finds Kathy Oxtoby

After years of training and fulfilling their ambition to be a consultant or GP partner, some mid-career doctors can feel they’ve reached a pinnacle and run out of things to achieve.

Helen Fidler, deputy chair of the BMA’s Consultants Committee and a consultant gastroenterologist at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, recalls that feeling.

“As a junior doctor your career continually moves forward—the next job, next level, next training grade—all the time looking towards the goal of becoming a consultant and getting on the specialist register,” she told The BMJ.

“And when you do, it’s fabulous. But then, after a year or two, you’re ready to move on to the next stage, but you realise there isn’t one, and you’ve got another 30 years.”

Career expectations change

GPs may experience this too when they become a partner, but not all doctors know this feeling. Hesham Abdalla, a general paediatrician at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, says: “We were often told as trainees that as a consultant we would reach a plateau. That’s a fallacy; throughout your career your expectations change.”

Abdalla’s career changed when he saw the quality of healthcare his father received at the time of his death. “This motivated me to become clinical lead for quality improvement, supporting staff to collaborate with service users,” he says.

He advises being open to unexpected …

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