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So what’s your next move?

It’s funny how you go through life and at each new stage you look forward to telling friends/relatives/random people on the street what wonderful plans you have for the next stage of life. Well, at least that was true in my childhood. Now the question of ‘what are you going to do once you leave university?’ is met with me mumbling about how I would really love to be a doctor, but I want to take a few years out to earn some money and try other things.

This is new for me because it had always been my plan to go to medical school pretty much as soon as my first degree in biochemistry was done. Since starting university I have always focussed on that goal and have undertaken work experience and volunteering placements, which had surely convinced me that switching to medicine would be the right thing for me.

So there I was application ready to attempt to clamber on to the path of becoming a doctor when the changing junior doctor contracts made me retreat somewhat. Suddenly all over Facebook my medic friends were writing statuses such as ‘Looks like I’ll be moving to Australia then’ or ‘#notsafenotfair’. I had, of course, read about the proposed changes, but I think they really only hit home when I started to understand that ‘now I’m an adult’ they would be affecting me and my peer group. And I started to think.

In my, admittedly limited, experience I am yet to meet a doctor who has chosen their career path for anything other than love of the job. And I can completely understand this – it isn’t exactly the easiest task. It’s emotionally demanding, anti-social and I personally think the pay for all medical staff (nurses and healthcare workers included) doesn’t reflect the dedication that is given on a regular basis. I’m genuinely wondering whether I’m cut out for it. I love working and learning – I always have done and I’m completely terrible at being aimless, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to commit my life pretty much completely to a career.

While I’m being completely honest, I suppose I should add that I am also considering the financial aspect of things and perhaps even more so as a woman. I hear that children are a drain on monetary resources and, as I am someone who would definitely consider taking time out to do a PhD in my chosen field of medicine, I will certainly have to consider the pay freezes that have been implemented.

I find it interesting that plenty of my peers studying medicine have been attending events such as ‘alternative careers to medicine’ – is the job giving people enough anymore? Resources are thinly spread in our current health service, including doctors, and is the sacrifice just becoming too much?

I am currently very conflicted. Every time I attend events regarding the innovations in medicine I get very excited and think ‘yes this is definitely the career for me’. And then I think about everything else that I want to do in life and I start to wonder whether a career in medicine could be conducive to those wants.


Olivia Bracken
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