Doctor - cardiology

What do you do for a living?

I am a Doctor specialising in Cardiology and am currently undertaking research into Heart Disease.

How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?

It was always a career I was interested in but I was worried that I wouldn't get the grades at School to allow me to apply. Fortunately I worked hard for my A-levels and applied for Medicine during my gap year after High School. The careers department at school were helpful with this.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I worked hard for my GCSE's and A-levels at school and took a year out after high-school before starting medicine at University of Glasgow. That was a 5 year course but I also undertook another degree during my studies called a 'BSc in Cardiovascular Sciences', so that I was in University for 6 years. Fortunately university tuition fees were free, which was a big help. After graduation I worked for 2 years as a junior doctor, and then lived in South Africa for a year working as  trauma surgeon (very similar to 'ER'!) before returning to hospital medicine in the UK where I trained as a cardiologist for 2 more years before coming out of hospital medicine to start a 3 year PhD in Cardiology, researching Heart Failure with the British Heart Foundation. Cardiology is a very competitive speciality, and therefore some experience in Research is essential.

Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?

Right now I get woken up by two noisy children and a dog. I go to work between 8.30am and 9am and have a very variable day. I will either be helping with CT or MRI scans of the heart, analysing pieces of heart muscle under the microscope, seeing patients in a Cardiology clinic or spending time reading and writing research papers. It's a busy day but always interesting and sociable, and I normally finish around 6 - 7pm before heading home for a run, a session in the gym or a movie and bed! Occasionally during the weekend I work in hospitals looking after medical patients. This can be very very busy at times but is always rewarding.

Was it your planned career when you were 18?

I actually applied to Biology at university at school but changed my mind when I got good grades for my exams. I always wanted to be a Doctor but I wasn't sure about what type until I was 20 or 21.

What did your mum and dad want you to do?

They never put any pressure on me at all to decide. My Dad is a doctor and he was very happy and proud when I decided to study Medicine.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Social networking (Facebook, twitter etc…) is the devil and ruins concentration spans. There is life beyond the internet! And always work hard when it is required. Being a doctor doesn't require special brains or high levels of talent, just the will to be able to knuckle down and focus when you need to, and this means you can enjoy yourself and have a good time when you don't need to work!

What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?

I'd be a professional surfer or a landscape gardener!