Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Review of the Decade

The 2010s: three doctors, 10 years, no regrets

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 12 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6889
  1. Jacqui Wise, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK
  1. jacquiyoung1{at}

Jacqui Wise asked a GP partner, a hospital consultant, and a doctor who left clinical medicine what the past decade had brought them

From junior doctor to hospital consultant

In 2010 Emma Plunkett was a junior registrar, on maternity leave for her second child. Now she is a consultant anaesthetist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. “My training seemed to take for ever,” she recalls. “I had three lots of maternity leave and saw all my contemporaries becoming consultants before me.” If she could give her younger self a message, she says, it would be “You will get there eventually.”

Without support she might not have carried on, she says. “I had a really good training programme director who was good at supporting those trainees who were less than full time.” Plunkett’s husband is a paediatric intensive care consultant. Because he does a lot of work out of hours, he often can do the morning school runs. She is also lucky to have support from parents and extended family, she says.

“Juggling a family and work is hard, and this will always be the case,” says Plunkett. “But I see the positives in both. I try to do school drop offs and pick ups once or twice a week so I feel involved in my children’s lives.”

During training Plunkett worked 60% of full time. Now, she works 90%. “As a consultant I have a fixed working pattern, so the logistics are a bit easier,” she says. “But, whatever happens, I have to be there until the end of the list.”

Plunkett enjoys her work and can’t …

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