My last post was rather pensive and a little depressing. I was lamenting the loss of my ‘exciting’ life as a doctor, but recent events have shown me that I was perhaps a little precipitate in resigning myself to a life of dissatisfaction, for no sooner had I finished the post than my colleague emailed to congratulate me for ‘having my name in lights’, as I had been published in the Good Housekeeping online magazine.
To build our website’s authority, we get our GPs and Consultants to write content for other websites and publications. It’s a full time job that our PR guy Anthony miraculously manages to do while doing several others things at the same time (such is the nature of a start-up!) We need to be very responsive to the media – newspaper X needs a comment on a health news story, magazine Y needs an article on a medical condition… Sometimes our busy doctor partners just aren’t available, and last week, when Good Housekeeping needed a doctor to contribute to an article on “things that make your hair go grey”, we had one such occasion. We couldn’t find a doctor to write it before 3pm when it was due, so Anthony asked me if I could do it.
I protested, because I’m no longer practising, but he dismissed my concerns by saying:
“You’re still a doctor though! You still have all that knowledge and all that training, so your opinion is still valid!”
I thought about this and realised that no one was going to throw me in front of the GMC if I spouted a few causes for grey hair in a magazine. It was quite a funny experience – I searched for journal articles and papers on grey hair development and vetted them for the strength of their evidence (even for a simple article on grey hair, I felt strongly that everything I said should be backed by good research! There’s already enough pseudo-medical rubbish on the internet!) For the first time in my life, I appreciated having fast research skills, as we were under time pressure to deliver. Anthony seemed like the fact that I’d sourced everything – it looked more professional and credible he thought. The magazine must have liked it too, as they published my comments! And more importantly, there’s a working link in there back to the Dr Morton’s website.
I have to say, the PR side of this job has been the most fun so far out of everything. We had the junior doctor cartoon campaign, Karen’s appearances on Radio 4’s Inside Health, and now further discussions for possible appearances on Channel 4. For me, it’s all seems so exciting and glamorous, and Anthony is always surprising me with some new idea or way of doing things.
I’ve had a very ‘showy’ week myself. As well as the magazine article, last Saturday I performed at the Sri Lankan Medical and Dental Association’s charity concert. The organiser had heard me sing before and apparently thought I sounded like Edith Piaf. I’m sure that’s grossly unfair on Edith herself, but most flattering for me! I sang two songs, one French and one German. Afterwards, my mother told me she was proud of me. I don’t think she’s ever said that to me before.
On Sunday I had to work – it was our filming date. We film videos of doctors talking about various medical conditions to publish on our website and share on social media, and this was the first time I’d been involved. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve conceptualised, written scripts and commissioned the videos. I’ve tried to think of how to make them more interesting and engaging, and how to make them sell the business. I’ve not been alone in this – our multi-talented technical support lead, who also happens to be our cameraman, director and producer, helped me hugely. But quite honestly, if I hadn’t worked as a doctor already and become accustomed to being put in situations where I didn’t know what I was doing, this kind of thing might well have thrown me.
Nevertheless, I’m enjoying doing a range of different things again. My life as a junior doctor felt so drained of colour and so boring, but I feel guilty saying that somehow. It shouldn’t be boring to be a doctor, and it’s one of the things I still can’t reconcile myself to even now.
One thing that stood out for me at the concert on Saturday was a conversation with a medical student. When I told her my story, she praised me for leaving, and said it was refreshing to speak to someone in the Sri Lankan community who was doing something that was not related to Medicine. The older Sri Lankan people I met and spoke to after that had a different reaction – they were baffled and dismayed that I had left Medicine, at first, but then they did proceed to quiz me all about my new career and the concept of the business, so I probably spoke to them for much longer than I ever would have done if I’d said I was still a doctor.
Perhaps it’s not that Medicine isn’t interesting. Maybe the truth is that I am more interesting without it. And maybe that’s because I’m more interested in life without it. Old dreams have been rekindled, and long-dormant sparks of my personality have come back to life. Maybe other people subconsciously pick up on that. I can’t say for sure, but I do take comfort in reflecting that, in my state of confusion and inner turbulence, everyone I want to be probably started off the same.
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Update: on March 31st 2016 I got published again on netdoctor! This time about swine flu. I admit to emailing the link to family and friends!