I am an ex-junior doctor.
I worked in the NHS for just over two years. I went to medical school for six years. But in 2015, at the age of 26, I resigned from my job. I wrote the post below shortly after I handed in my resignation, and I have been using this blog ever since to document my career journey, and the emotional process of leaving something that had become such a huge part of my identity.
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16th October 2015
I’ve quit my job as a doctor. I can hardly believe I’ve done it, but I have.
Despite all the political turmoil surrounding junior doctor contracts at the moment, and the threat of worsening working conditions, this government’s idiocy is not the only reason I’m leaving.
This has 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 adults around you who tell you that you’re good at science, and therefore you should do medicine.
I have tried. I really have. 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, fading my colours away.
I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have no plan as such, only a dream to get back into my true loves: creative writing and modern foreign languages. I have no new job lined up for when I finish on December 4th. It is perhaps a little mad to do things this way, with no plan B, but quitting will hopefully give me the impetus to do now what I have been putting off for a very long time.
I want to 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’m leaving anyway, I won’t have to worry about losing my job for speaking out!
The NHS can be a brutal and frankly unsafe place to work, and I realised that, without the desire to give up my entire life for his profession, staying in it would be simply too hard. If it isn’t your passion, the huge sacrifices involved in being a doctor just don’t feel worth it.
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 leave will be the first day of the rest of my life, and I cannot wait to get started.
7 thoughts on “The first day of the rest of my life…”
Excellent blog post. Really admire your confidence in your decision. Do you mind me asking at what stage you resigned as I am contemplating doing the same but don’t know if I should do so abruptly. Thanks
Thank you for your question! I’m in the middle of my FY2 at the moment. I was going to finish the year but I’ve decided not to. I’ll blog about my reasons for that in my next post to give you more details 🙂
Thank you for writing this blog. I’m looking forward to reading more about your onward journey!
I can feel your frustration. I’ve been there, struggling to find a way out, feeling trapped, feeling guilty, but eventually you find a way out because there is no other choice to. I’m proud of you for making this leap. Trust me when I say that it was the greatest decision you have ever made, especially since it was made for you not to please anyone else.
Thank you for your comments and also for being part of my inspiration 🙂
I really feel so inspired by this blog post. I have been looking out for stories of people who have chosen not to follow the traditional way that this career is crafted. I was a third year medical student in August 2019 when I got a burn out and decided to take a year off to reevaluate my life’s purpose. I was actually advised to take the break by an uncle and though my parents and some relatives were against it I decided to go for it. It was one of the best decisions I made and since then I have learnt a lot about myself that I never had time to discover. I was supposed to report back last year October 2020 but got into severe depression in July 2020 and lost most of my past memory through the trauma. It’s now 6 months since then and am on my way to full recovery but am in a confused state about my future. Before taking my sabbatical I always felt something was not right with me but couldn’t tell what it was. I never gave much thought to my career choice before starting it partly due to the thought that since I did well in my finals in high school and was among the top students nationally. Also the influence from parents, relatives and peers made me not give a thought of the why I made that career choice. Now am 23 and having done 3 years in med school, I feel like I should go back and finish my degree then pursue a different path of my liking based on my natural skill set and abilities like you. To be honest, I feel like am not wired to dress in a lab coat each day of the rest of my life attending to patients and sitting behind a desk listening to the long histories all day long. I want to do something I will fully live for and feel fulfilled in. However, part of me still tells me I should change my career now and not finish my medical degree. So I started looking out for stories of people who may have made that tough call and came across your 20 tips on linked in and ended up seeing this site. From your story, I think am starting to find clarity and a sense of direction though I know I have a lot to do and figure out since time is not on my side to dilly dally any more. That is part of my long story and I have to admit I need help. Hope to get a response soon and I can share more of my story to get the much help you and your team can offer. Thanks so much!!
Hi there! Thank you so much for your lovely comments and for sharing your story! It’s truly wonderful to hear that the blog is still inspiring career-questioning medics. I’m so sorry to hear that things have been so hard… Having doubts about medicine, as you said, can be a hugely confusing and isolating experience, and it’s difficult to find safe spaces in which to talk about it openly without being judged. Mental health, trauma and family pressures are also common themes that we see an awful lot. Do reach out to us if you think we can be of any further assistance – just send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂 Wishing you all the very best!