Did you always want to be a doctor? Honestly, I didn’t. When I was at school, I never dreamed of studying medicine but for many years this was a secret I kept because I thought I was the only doctor who felt like this.

In high school, my favourite subjects were languages, especially Latin. I don’t remember my exact mark in the HSC but it was over 95 and I was in the top 10 in the States making me officially a Latin champion. Nerdy, right? My second best subject was French. I also studied physics and chemistry “to keep my options open” but the first time I actually passed a physics exam was in the HSC trials! My dream was to study languages at uni and to become a teacher. I was particularly interested in working with special needs children. But then the dreaded HSC results came out and, unlike most people, I was disappointed to have done better than I’d expected. Everyone started telling me that I “couldn’t waste those marks becoming a teacher”. So I applied for medicine but crossed my fingers I wouldn’t get in. When I was accepted, I told myself I’d give it a go for a year and, if I didn’t like it, I’d change to my original plan.

Turns out, I loved it. It was nothing like the sciences I’d done at school and much to my surprise and delight, there was a fair bit of Latin. I loved interacting with patients. I was in one of the first intakes of the Newcastle course and we had patient contact from very early in the course and it was my favourite thing.

But I definitely wasn’t one of those medical students who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they finished. I didn’t have a clear plan but thought that I’d probably enjoy general practice. The one area that I absolutely loved was O&G but, unlike today, at that time the training program was very inflexible and not really consistent with having a family, which was something that was important to me. In fact, it was family that pushed me to finally make a decision about specialising. I was 30 and had 3 little boys under 3 when my husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. I’d been doing some part-time administrative work and felt that a non-clinical role would give me the most predictable hours and flexibility if I ended up bringing up my kids by myself, which seemed very likely. I moved through a series of hospital administration jobs, worked as a DPET (Director of Prevocational Education and Training) for 6 years, was the Medical Advisor to the Postgraduate Medical Council of NSW (now HETI), worked for the Medical Board and as a Medical Advisor for MIPS. Despite my complete lack of a plan, I’ve had a varied and satisfying career with loads of experience which has culminated in me doing the job I was always meant to do – providing career advice for other doctors.

Although things panned out well for me, I’m conscious that this isn’t the case for lots of doctors. In fact, the majority of doctors who come to me to talk about career change tell me that they studied medicine because they got the marks or because it was someone else’s dream for them, and have never felt fulfilled in their career. I completely understand where they’re coming from and my aim in coaching is to help them identify what they’d really like to be doing and what a satisfying career would look like for them. Once we understand that, we can start to look at whether staying in medicine is going to be their best option, whether they’d be happier if they moved to one of the many alternative careers for doctors and perhaps some combination of the two. My aim, for everyone I work with, is to help them work towards a career that they really love.

Decades later, my husband is still alive and is one of the longest known survivors of multiple myeloma. My love of languages persisted too and I now have a French daughter in law to help me practise my French (not sure that I’ll ever revive the Latin!) After many career iterations, I’ve ended up doing something I absolutely love in helping doctors find a satisfying and rewarding career, whether that’s in medicine or in a totally different field.

Was medicine your dream? Are you happy with how your career’s progressing? If you’d like to explore all your options and potential alternative careers for doctors, I’d love to talk to you. Why not book in for a quick chat and see how we could work together?

More information about Career Change Coaching & Planning