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Junior Doctors: One Year Check Up

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Keir Shiels Keir Shiels | 15:30 UK time, Thursday, 13 October 2011

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since we first wrapped our stethoscopes around our necks, pocketed our pen torches and stepped onto the wards as doctors for the first time.

Junior Doctors (L-R): Andy Kong, Adam Beaney, Lucy Holmes, Katherine Conroy, Keir Shiels, Suzi Bachelor & Jon Barclay

Of course for everyone reading this post, it won't feel that long either, because Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands Series 1 was broadcast in March, but it was filmed between August and November and we have all changed so much and yet so little - in the intervening months. We've been stopped in the street, chatted to by complete strangers, and hilariously parodied by a group of medical students on YouTube...

We're still all the same people out of work, but we have all surprised ourselves with how far we've come since those early days. We all catch up with each other regularly - we're still good friends and love to catch up with each other regularly. Here's a bit of an update:

Adam (or "The One With That Car") has been at the coalface of medicine, looking after the sickest patients in Intensive Care, which has given him the hands-on experience and critical care management he so craved in his first few months. Adam recently got a taste of medicine from the opposite end of the bed, when he was injured in a road accident and needed to get treatment in hospital. He has fully recovered and is back at work now. Based in A&E, he is following in Suzi's footsteps dealing with all sorts of cases from the trivial to the life-threatening. He's still subjected to an avalanche of paperwork from time to time, but is achieving the level of responsibility that he so craved in those first few weeks.

Andy (or "The One With That Joke") is sorely missed. He has moved to Hong Kong and so is not seen as much as the others. He's living with his family having spent so many years in the UK and is taking exams to start practising medicine in the Far East. Unlike driving licences, medical licences aren't necessarily accepted overseas. If you want to practise abroad, you have to sit even more exams before you can be let loose on the wards. So Andy has let himself in for a lot of work before he can kick off his new career!

Katherine (or "The One With That Handbag") and Suzi have silenced their critics by sitting their professional exams a year early and passing all of the papers first time. Katherine is pushing on with her ambitions for a career in surgery, and has recently survived one of the toughest jobs in Newcastle - working on the Liver Surgery Wards. She's now looking after patients undergoing Ear, Nose and Throat Surgery, with responsibility not just for her patients but also for the first year doctors who work on the ward. She's now in the same situation I was when she started off: helping the first years organise their time and helping them out in times of need.

Jon (or "The One With That Song About Him") is still working towards a career in surgery, juggling his work life and social life in a way that only Jon can. Shortly after episode 2 of Junior Doctors aired, he guest-starred in an episode of Harry Hill's TV Burp, chasing a giant shepherd's pie down a corridor, much to the delight and hilarity of his colleagues, who won't let him forget it.

Lucy (or "The One With That Tear in Her Eye") has split her time between academic research in genetics and working on the wards. A radical new short haircut hasn't stopped her getting noticed (or indeed being photographed for magazines). Lucy has had an exciting year, not only developing her medical skills, but progressing in research and baking incessantly. She also has recently become engaged! Her fiancé proposed in New York. We can't wait for the wedding!

Suzi (or "The One With That Toilet Brush") is loving her new medical job in South Shields. Having knocked her Barbie-like image into touch, she has a lot of responsibility on her ward, looking after some of the sickest patients and being responsible for their management when on-call. Suzi and I often take a cheeky evening out to the cinema or theatre; but nowhere is safe without someone coming up to her and asking about that toilet brush... Suzi will be taking the last of her exams soon, and risks being qualified to be a registrar two years early!

Which leaves me, Keir or "The One With That Heel-Click". I have moved from Newcastle to London to pursue a career in Paediatric Medicine. Currently at Whipps Cross Hospital, I move to Great Ormond Street next year, which I'm really looking forward to. I've dabbled in a few conferences and talks here and there, telling students and doctors alike about my experiences as a Junior Doctor. In three years' time, I have to make up my mind as to which area of paediatrics I wish to specialise in and I'm finding the decision difficult... Plus ça change...

Watch Junior Doctors One Year Check Up tonight at 9pm.

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