Jane’s Story

Jane is an Associate Specialist in Paediatric Cardiology. An Associate Specialist is an experienced, senior hospital doctor who has taken an alternative career path to the traditional route of training to be a consultant.

1. What is your job title and what does this mean?

I am an Associate Specialist in Paediatric Cardiology. An Associate Specialist is an experienced, senior hospital doctor who has taken an alternative career path to the traditional route of training to be a consultant. Like many other doctors in these posts, I opted for this role as a means of staying in hospital medicine while achieving a better work/family balance.

2. How long have you been in your role?

I have been in this role for 11 years now with some breaks along the way to have my children.

3. Why did you want to specialise in Cardiology?

I was training to be a general paediatrician and had gained a broad range of experience across many paediatric specialties. When I had my first child, I decided to come out of my training programme into a post with more regular hours. The job in Clark Clinic came up and appealed to me because it meant I could use the skills I had developed in general paediatrics while providing a new challenge to develop expertise in another area.

4. What does a typical day on Clark Clinic look like?

Every day is different! The day usually starts with a quick catch up in the tea room. On a Monday, we have our Grand Ward Round. Most other mornings, we have outpatient clinics. For me, the rest of the day is spent seeing patients attending Cardiac Investigations and doing some administration in between, such as reporting investigations and signing letters. Upstairs, there is a daily round in the morning which will result in a list of tasks for the doctor on the ward. They will also receive a high volume of phone calls from other hospitals during the day with queries about other patients.

I spend more time in outpatient clinics during the week than on the ward. I work occasional weekends, mainly to do the morning ward round and see any new patients who have been referred. I enjoy this part of my job as it gives me time to catch up with the children and their families on the ward (and the nursing staff!) when things are more relaxed and I have a bit more time to spend with them.

5. If you could give one piece of advice to heart families, what would it be?

That’s a hard one as no matter how much experience one has from a clinical point of view, I think it is very hard to impart advice unless you have been through a similar experience yourself… I suppose I would say – you are not on your own and take as much support as you can cope with, either from the Clark Clinic staff, your own family and friends or other heart families. Great bonds have been formed between our heart families who end up being a huge support to each other and I suppose that comes back to what I said about understanding and relating to similar experiences.

6. What is your favourite part of the job?

Without a doubt, it is the interaction with the children and their families. It is very humbling to observe the strength of our families and how they cope. So many people outside of work have commented to me on how hard it must be to work with children who are unwell. I explain to them the positive side and how the kids are so resilient. I never cease to be amazed by how quickly so many of our babies and children bounce back after open heart surgery. They put most adults (including myself!) to shame – would we be up and about 2 days after a heart operation? More like still wallowing for many weeks afterwards!

7. What is your favourite motto and why?

Does “Mummy’s always right” count? My kids hear that all the time! But I think it’s an important one to keep in mind at work too – and not just mums. If a parent has a concern about their child, it is worth taking the time to listen as they know their child best.

8. What has been your most embarrassing moment so far?

I think it would have to be the photo of me (no need to print it Cathy!) that circulated after myself and the rest of the Clark Clinic Warriors did the Hell and Back challenge last year. At the end, I was so cold that my lips were literally glowing blue. There was a half dressed man in the background of the photo and Clark Clinic staff’s clinical skills were being judged, depending on whether they first noticed him or the extreme cyanosis in the picture!

9. How do you enjoy spending a day off?

I have 4 young kids so how I spend my days off is usually dictated by them! But when I manage to put my foot down and insist on a family day, we all enjoy simply not having to rush out in the morning, having a cooked breakfast and getting outside for a cycle or a game of football. My boys are still at the stage where they think their mum is great so I’m enjoying that while it lasts. They often tell me I should have been a professional footballer – I don’t know what they’re seeing!

10. What has been your biggest achievement to date? (personal or work related)

I think it would have to be being a mum. It’s something that no one can prepare you for. It’s a constant challenge – as soon as you think you’ve cracked something, you’re thrown another curveball. However, the hard work is worth it several times over for all the laughs, the cuddles and the craic. Becoming a parent made me more patient, more empathetic and I hope, a better doctor.