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Two doctors presented opposing views on recommending a career in UK medicine at the recent SAS Conference. You can catch up on all the content from the conference, including a webcast of the full event.
Speaking for: Dr Sara Landy
" I hope I will be able to convince you that this is a positive rather than a negative motion. I would encourage you to vote in favour to try to catapult the issue into the public domain for debate, so that politicians and employers will realise that school leavers have a choice and will not choose medicine if they continue to destroy what was once a profession of integrity and opportunity.
This is something that I’m very passionate about; I want us all to be in a position to encourage young people to go into medicine. I should say that I have no regrets whatsoever about my own career in secondary care and have enjoyed all aspects of it, despite some disappointments along the way.
My husband would say the same from a primary care perspective, however he took early retirement to avoid bureaucracy and now works a three-day week seeing patients and doing the job he started 40 years ago ie: looking after the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of his patients and having a healthy work/life balance.
His full-time colleagues in primary care however, are grinding themselves into the ground.
The essence of this motion has been at the forefront of our minds for a few years now; we have two bright, high-achieving teenagers and we want them to reach their full potential, have choices about where and how they work, and achieve a healthy work/life balance. Can they get all of this from medicine the way the NHS is going? I don’t think so.
Why would I encourage other school leavers when I wouldn’t encourage my own?"
Speaking against: Dr Farah Jameel
"I quote from an article published in the Times recently:
'Why medics are leaving the NHS ... A profession that demands the brightest, most creative, most passionate people at entry level, then once you are there, systematically drills that out of you'
Putting a child’s drawing into your portfolio as part of patient feedback, box ticking, evidence collecting; doctors are feeling straitjacketed. Bring back the medicine!
It’s ironic that I’m speaking against this motion when I have just listed a whole variety of reasons in favour of it. I have to be honest – I’m sitting on the fence with this. I love my job, I love being a doctor. I am an international medical graduate who came to the UK for post graduate training seven years ago. Since then I’ve been trained to the highest level and experienced equal opportunities for the first time in my life.
I love everything the NHS stands for. I truly believe this is the best healthcare system in the world and I want to continue being a part of it. I want to be part of the solution.
I wholeheartedly understand the sentiment of this motion; I have over thirty years of my working life left so it’s very much about people like me. But what we should be discussing here is how we may improve the situation based on what we each have first-hand experience of.
Do not denigrate our choice of profession or the country where we chose to practice. Be welcoming and work towards creating a positive and supportive working environment for the future generations to come.
Be fierce and fight to preserve; become part of the solution!"
The conference attendees rejected the motion, but how would you vote? Would you recommend a career in medicine to a young person who might be considering applying to medical school?
I am pleased to report none of my three children have gone into medicine. The first twenty years of my medical life was hard work but rewarding. Even working 120 hours a week was worthwhile. Now the job is ruled by guidelines and targets and we loose sight of the people we are meant to treat . The comments made in the Francis report apply to many hospitals and not just Stafford. And my children have made their own choices having watched the lives of their father, GP and mother, Hospital Consultant.
I would not encourage any rels to do medicine as in gb I considedr it farcical for all the stated reasons. I enjoyed 40 yrs in the sane practice but eventually retired at 67 after several arguements with jobsworth who was interfering with my clinical practice
I was fortunate to have practical experience of two other careers outside medicine (in Law and IT). Of the three medicine was the most significant and for me it was enjoyable but never quite enough. However the encroachment of Stalinist managerialism over the last four years of my working life was a portent of what has subsequently happened. I am glad that no other relatives are working in the NHS, it simply isn't the place to be anymore. If I had my time over again I would probably have ended up in business rather than the public sector.
I'm going to throw in the controversial argument that sees increasing governance of doctor's work as a positive for patients. Not all by any means; but some aspects of our work needs to be improved. Compliance with infection control practice is one - rather than complaining about the "bare below the elbows" rule, maybe we could actually look at the human factors involved? Rather than complaining about e-portfolio, maybe we should stop seeing it as a box-ticking exercise and use it as it's designed? Guidelines decrease variation in practice and sometimes that translates to outcomes.
I'm a junior SpR and I work in a multi-disciplinary team both clinically and non-clinically. I don't have a problem with losing the hierarchy; developing evidence based practice; or listening to an infection control nurse telling me to wash my hands.
Funnily enough, it's not about me