The first day of the rest of my life…

My name is Peach. In October 2015, at the age of 26, I resigned from my job as a junior doctor in the NHS.

Despite all the political turmoil surrounding junior doctor contracts, and the threat of worsening working conditions, the government’s idiocy was not the only reason I left.

It had been a long time coming. I never really wanted to be a doctor, but when you’re 15 years old and choosing your GCSEs at school, it’s very difficult not to be influenced by the people around you who tell you that you’re good at science, and therefore you should do medicine.

I tried. I really did. I passed every exam at medical school, I got a good job in London, I got very good feedback from my peers, my mentors and my patients – but there was always something missing, and that something ate away at me inside for months on end, killing my passion, turning my colours to unvarying shades of grey.

When I left, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had no plan as such, only a dream to get back into my true loves: creative writing and modern foreign languages. I had no new job lined up for when I finished in December 2015. It was perhaps a little mad to do things this way, with no plan B, but I hoped quitting would give me the impetus to do now what I have been putting off for a very long time.

I now use this blog to document my journey, and also talk about my experiences as a doctor: the good, the bad, and the terrible. I can now be brutally honest about what it’s really like to work for the NHS – since I’ve left anyway, I don’t have to worry about losing my job for speaking out!

I have no regrets about my medical career; it was a fantastic experience and has made me who I am today, but it does not define me. The day I left felt like the first day of the rest of my life, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

See the Menu link in the top right hand corner for all my posts.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “The first day of the rest of my life…

  1. I read your entry with a bit of confusion and concern. How could anyone who was almost through their residency give up medicine? But on the other hand, you have spent your youth inside classrooms and a hospital, dealing with class work and the need to impress teachers and perform on tests. Sometimes I muse that society should give every young person a year or two “off” to see the world. Shouldn’t young people get to travel, go on endless treks, and in general have fun? I think you missed having a youth.
    It was interesting that one of the people replying to you mentioned that they have gone back into medicine now that they have done some interesting and fun things. It very well could be that eventually you will go back. But right now have a good time. Be good to yourself and keep writing. You seem to be someone who will land on their feet.

    Like

    1. Hi, thanks for your interesting comment. You’re right that every young person should have the opportunity to enjoy their youth. Going to med school at 18 years of age is perhaps too soon. However, I must say I had a youth full of opportunities as well as study – I travelled loads during our long uni breaks, saw a lot of the world, worked in Germany, lived in France. I can’t complain about that aspect of my life as I was lucky enough to have the time and money to do that. Having been out of medicine now for nearly three years, I can safely say it wasn’t the right career for me and I’m much happier where I am. But for some people, it does indeed seem to be the case that having a decent break can help recharge you, reset your ambitions and make the system easier to bear. Wishing you all the best in your career too!

      Like

  2. Dear Peach,

    Your journey through Medical School has certainly enlightened me. To give you a little of a background, I did my first undergraduate in Finance. I never felt Finance was for me, I always thought of myself as an intellect and being a bit of a cynic towards general society I knew quite quickly that Finance might not be the career for me.

    Because of some inspiration from a very close cousin of mine who is a Doctor, I thought perhaps try Medicine. I now have completed my first year. But much like you I find myself somewhat disillusioned, what with horrible working conditions, and low pay. I have no idea of what I got myself into. I don’t know where to go from here, I think I am a student with distinction, I’ve achieved straight A’s in first year. But still with 70’s being a first class honor. I find myself hard to believe that it’s actually an achievement.

    I still don’t know where to go from here or what to do. A big part of me wants to complete my course, I finish things. I also understand first year is no reflection of what is to come, but doctors get a shitty pay, and even worse working conditions. All that means to me is that I wont be able to support my family emotionally, or financially. What is left?

    I’m just writing what is on my mind, on little sleep during summer break. But your post has perhaps been the most insightful thing I have read to help me solve my problems. I thank you deeply for that.

    Like

    1. Dear Quest,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I’m so glad the blog has been helpful and interesting to you.

      One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of doctors is this tendency to downplay their achievements and strengths. Having always done well and outperformed everyone else, we are then surrounded by people who are equally brilliant and capable in the medical profession, and it skews our view of life. Not only are we afraid of unleashing our potential, we are largely unaware of it.

      Even if you decide not to continue with your studies, or if you start working and don’t enjoy it, nothing can take away the fact that you are clearly an incredibly talented person with a broad skillset and diverse range of experiences.

      This, I have discovered, is more valuable than anything else when it comes to success in your career. However many years you spend in medicine or med school – be it one, five or fifty, you will take something away from every experience you have, and it will make you a richer person.

      I wish you the very best,
      Peach

      Like

  3. Hi Peach,

    Your blog is so inspirational and a pleasure to read. It’s great to hear what you have accomplished since leaving the NHS. Thankyou for your honesty I can really relate.

    I made the decision to leave medicine a year ago but unlike you have not been so lucky finding the right job. Any tips or suggestions you can offer? I’ve read your tips section and I’m considering investing in a career coach in the new year.

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comment! Well done for taking such a big decision in your career – I know it’s not easy to do that.

      I got really lucky – I knew I loved writing and it just happened that I stumbled across a job in content and marketing – an area that requires strong written and communication skills. I think the best thing I did was to network. It was through meeting people at conferences, events, social occasions etc that I’ve found job opportunities. It’s an alien concept to doctors – few of us have the confidence to march up to a stranger and give your ‘elevator speech’ – but genuinely, developing the confidence to do this will spark conversations that may well lead to career paths.

      At the same time as this, it’s a very good idea to work out where your strengths and interests lie. Having a career coach really helped me with this because she got me to explore my personal skills in ways I’d never have thought of before, so if you’re unsure of your direction I reckon it might be worth trying 🙂 Hope that helps and best of luck. Let me know how you get on! x

      Like

  4. Dear Peach,

    I discovered your blog via the T&E Facebook page and it was exactly what I needed to find! Intended to have a brief look, ended up delving through all your posts because they resonate so well. Although I’m not at the stage of leaving medicine necessarily, I’ve definitely begun to realise there’s a world outside of the medical bubble that I’m keen to explore. Thank you!

    Like

  5. Hey Peach, your migration is such an inspiration!
    It certainly left me with a query about my own career destination,
    A leap away from the NHS, sounds like much less stress
    Indeed, the flowers of creativity appear to bloom
    Whilst I sit in the clinic room.

    It must be so nice not to be on-call
    To have a relaxed lunch with a relaxed bunch instead of being bleeped and running down a long hall.
    When for a change I could make a yoga class,
    Instead more often, I have to pass

    Exam after exam we take,
    Late finishes, long nights,
    Not really awake.
    Efforts and copious funds injected into career.

    We reach the next stage and cheer!
    And, as time goes by… it becomes next year….
    Perpetually on-call for the rest of our lives.
    Chronically understaffed – it feels like the norm
    But we always try to be on top-form

    They teach us ‘resilience’
    To make us go the distance
    Like the energizer bunny….
    Isn’t it funny, they have human resources, but we’re more akin to work-horses

    Our senior colleagues continue the same way,
    Training by volume and pressure, as has always been the way
    Because it’s all they’ve known – and slowly it dawns – all work no play
    But surely, it cant be that way – Some would say..

    Quality of life seems so much better than this strife
    It is so refreshing to hear of your journey,
    I look though your eyes and can see the vista…

    But alas…. there are days that I myself can see, the clear blue sea.
    Easy to forget when you’re busy as a bee.
    I see it now; I’m already there, off the conveyor belt.
    Staring at the fresh open air.

    Lush green vistas, green pastures anew
    Can it be true? Ive been wondering this too…
    Working away from the NHS – I could so easily be there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Reader, no one has written a poem on my blog before, and I’m thrilled that you’re the poetry pioneer! Thanks for this fantastic piece – the longing and wondering you feel is so familiar to me, and although I can’t say that my ‘new pastures’ are perfect, I am glad to have the chance to experience them. I hope you get the chance too to breather new air – even if briefly – as I think every doctor could benefit from some time out of the NHS!

      Like

  6. Hi Peach,

    Thank you for your fascinating blog! I have a similar story to tell. I resigned from my ST6 post in paediatrics in December. I had a book of poetry published last year which I think you might find interesting: http://www.ellenstorm.com

    I am now in my second year of a creative writing MA and am writing a novel. Also thinking about setting up my own business, but no definite plans as yet. Do get in touch if you’d like to chat – I’m on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

    Ellen x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello, I have just stumbled upon your post be complete coincidence and read what you had to write and as I was reading I had to double take as I thought those words had come out of my mouth. It is literally word for word the same. I am 25 years old and knew even before starting, deep down, even if I wasn’t willing to admit it to myself that medicine was not for me. Lots of pressure from family to continue throughout early years of medical school saying that it is lazy to stop and all jobs are hard which added to the confusion of my intuition telling me otherwise. Really took so much courage to leave but so glad I have. Just recently done so. No plan B as of yet and very aware that I do not want to be latching onto a similar job I don’t want to do simply because I am uncomfortable not sitting with the uncertainty of what is going to happen and no job security. So slowly exploring and continuing to be open and try to be relaxed and listen to the intuition. So so great to hear your current situation Peach. It’s a huge relief to know and the others commenting on here in such similar situations! Keep up the courage to do what’s right!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I also quit medicine at 26, had a great time working for a holiday company and snow sports instructing for 6 years, my dream job, learned so much, went back into medicine at 32 with a renewed passion (something I swore for 5 years I would never do), did my f2 and moved to NZ to do my EM training 2 years ago. Best of luck with perusing your passion and no door is ever truly closed, so for others reading who are thinking about taking a break, it could be the best thing you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi Peach. I am one year younger than you but I have similar sentiments. “It’s very difficult not to be influenced by adults around you..” How true.

    I am still trying to keep the passion going and hope I make something out of myself. The alternative is as you felt ‘I have no idea what to do!’

    Hope to hear more from your journey and from the others who are brave enough to take the first step and be true to themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Just linked this through the junior doctor fb forum! I have the exact reasons for having done medicine, as I;m sure alot of ppl do, I just havent bitten the bullet to quit! You are so brave! I’m still in limbo!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dear Disillusioned Medic,

    I think you are absolutely amazing! Your story is eerily similar to mine and gives me so much hope and confidence to know I’m not a ‘freak’ . I gave up my upcoming GP job last year when I realised I just couldn’t do it anymore. Would absolutely love to meet you.
    Sarah.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s