Oxbridge was the light at the end of the tunnel in my lower sixth. Home life had been difficult due to my mother developing a neurodegenerative disease, and success at school became an escape. Initially I’d toyed with studying Medicine but an English teacher encouraged a passion for the arts and I changed A levels.
A friend’s boyfriend encouraged me to apply to Hertford. He had also been at a local comprehensive and thanks to the Tanner Scheme was reading Maths! I was heartbroken after the initial interviews though. ‘You shouldn’t put yourself forward for things like this if you can’t take it’ was my older sister’s despairing advice! My headmistress was relieved to be able to deliver the PPE tutors’ good news: if I sat the exam later that term, I was likely to be offered a place – and I was! I gained a lasting confidence, the experience of meeting a wide range of people, and the encounter with some great minds.
After Hertford, I did a journalism course and worked in television for ten years, becoming a political correspondent. However, I was idealistic and every so often wondered if I should have done Medicine.
I had young children when I learnt of a new medical course that was open to people like me: older, from another professional background, who might have done an arts degree. I was so excited and was offered a place when expecting my third child.
I qualified five years ago. I began speciality training in Emergency Medicine. However, last year I switched to Psychiatry. An art as well as a science, where ethics pervade, communication skills are key and life experience enhances understanding, psychiatry offers scope to my range of skills. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be a doctor, journalist and mother. Undoubtedly an important part in the turn of events was my luck in coming to Hertford in the first place.