Diversify your career: An interview with Medic Footprints
With increasing workload pressures in General Practice. Many doctors are looking to branch out and add to their clinical roles. It can often be difficult to know where to start. We speak to Dr Abeyna Jones, Occupational medic and Co-Founder of Medic Footprints about how more and more doctors are exploring additional roles for a balanced and rewarding career.
Describe your career roles
I'm an ex surgeon currently in the third year of re-training in Occupational Medicine. My 24/7 role is as the Co-Founder and Medical Director of Medic Footprints. I'm also one of the first NHS Innovations Clinical Entrepreneur Fellows.
What led you to set up Medic Footprints
I set up Medic Footprints after returning from a 2 year sabbatical in trauma surgery in South Africa (SA) in 2014. I had an amazing few years balancing a contrasting & highly demanding work environment with an incredibly rewarding lifestyle living in a nature reserve near an empty golden beach, travelling around Southern Africa and indulging in fine wines and braais (BBQs). You're probably wondering why I returned to the UK?
I decided to continue my training in Urology in the UK with a vague plan to return to South Africa once attaining my CCT. One morning I woke up in Blackburn. Being very much a London girl, I realised this was a clear symptom of the working in the NHS - lack of autonomy & making significant sacrifices for future career possibilities, I decided to reclaim some control in my life.
I co-founded Medic Footprints as a social enterprise for alternative careers and wellbeing for doctors.
What advice do you have for doctors wanting to make their careers as varied and stimulating as possible?
My advice for doctors is to be honest with yourself. If you can't do that, any change you make in your life is unlikely to be successful. Many of the choices we may have made earlier in life was as a consequence to peer or family influences. The older we get, the more responsibilities we also have to manage, hence the fewer mistakes we generally would like to make.
For me, leaving surgery was a difficult choice, but I knew that I was slowly becoming demotivated with my career in the specialty and had no real aspirations to work as a Consultant. It no longer excited me.
Many of the doctors we work with find it difficult to transition away from something they've dedicated a significant period of time in their life towards ; whether a specialty or medicine in itself. I usually ask them to consider the risks of continuing with their current career and the possible psychological impact that this would have on them.
I would encourage anyone considering career change or enhancement to return to your roots; your real passions and talents. The stuff that you truly enjoy and makes you feel warm inside.
This may not be medicine, and that's okay!
There are many opportunities for doctors as medics or using their transferrable skills. You don't have to give up what you're doing now, but be prepared to explore, make mistakes and network! The latter is the key to discovering what you really want to do.
What resources can GPs’ use to help them create a career they enjoy?
Our website was designed to be a one-stop-shop for career inspiration - Medic Footprints - www.medicfootprints.org. There are a range of articles, blogs, event write ups and career opportunities that will wet your appetite. We also have a highly engaged membership newsletter with exclusive offers and updates.
Our annual signature event Alternative Careers and Wellbeing for Doctors 2016 on 30 Sept - 1 Oct is also a fantastic & incredibly opportunity to be in the same room as hundreds of doctors who are doing something different with their career. We also have 25 organisations attending who are actively recruiting doctors for their skill sets.
Mentoring, career coaching can also be useful. I advise you to start with what you enjoy, stumble upon, or simply curious about.
GPs are especially fortunate to be in a position whereby they can be more flexible & innovative with their careers in comparison to other medics. Diverse opportunities we've helped some of our GP community members with include working as a TV set doctor on 'The Island' with Bear Grylls, Management Consultancy, Occupational Medicine and setting up a Health-Tech company.
My final thoughts are as follows - as a Ugandan lady recently told me; - ensure that your work serves your life.. not the other way round.
...and don't forget to have loads of fun whilst you're doing it!
There's way #moretomedicine!