Junior Doctor Keir: I believe reality TV buffs call this "A Journey"
Everyone's first day at work is somewhat daunting. One wants to make a good impression, but without being over-keen (mentioning no names) or under-prepared (ditto): it is very important to fit in. However, try fitting in when you've brought a camera crew with you. Those two extra people - one with a large lens and one with what looks like a large fluffy sock on a stick (the sound person) - represent 1.4 million pair of eyes watching your every move - and those of your colleagues. No matter how much you want to fit in, no matter how hard you try, it's going to get you noticed by your colleagues.
I wouldn't have had the nerve to take part in this project as an F1 doctor (in the first foundation year as a newly qualified doctor), I was a bundle of nerves. I started out on nightshift as the only F1 to look after all the surgical patients in one hospital. My first patient crashed. I had to enlist help from medical, surgical and anaesthetics colleagues. It was enough of a baptism of fire without being asked to reflect on what I was doing by the sock-on-a-stick-person. I admire Adam, Katherine and Lucy for having the guts to do it from day one. I'd have run a mile and, as Lucy will tell you, I never - ever - run.
So what, in the end, made me sign up to the project? Well, there were two reasons. Firstly, I found out that Katherine had signed up to the project (I knew her from my time at Cambridge). This meant that, technically, I probably couldn't avoid the crews even if I dived Rambo-style into the sluice every time they passed. But secondly, I felt that my journey into and through medicine was an interesting one to tell. It was a big and happy journey. As big and happy as... um... Jon.
Junior Doctor Keir Shiels
Fast-track medical training, for people who already have a degree, has opened up a world that otherwise people could not afford, in either time or money. It has allowed people like me to make a decision in their twenties that most people make a decade earlier. It's a lot of hard work (and fun) doing a five year degree in three and a half, but very fulfilling.
So after graduating from Cambridge (twice) I find myself in Newcastle - back home - with the opportunity to show the sort of doctors we older Juniors are. So how did I cope with the cameras? Truth be told, I didn't notice them most of the time. The man with the lens was - in my head - a consultant. The sock-on-a-stick was a member of my family. And I behaved at work as if they were watching me. Because now, they are.
As filming went on, I developed more surgical skills on the plastic surgery unit and came to a decision about my future. I believe reality TV buffs call this "A Journey". Within 16 months of starting work as an F1, doctors have to decide what they want to be when they grow up - a GP? A Radiologist? A Pathologist? A Surgeon?
16 months' experience in four different placements and you have to decide which areas of practice you never want to deal with again. It is not long and a weighty decision. My 'journey' was working out whether I wanted to end up as a children's surgeon or a children's medic and I now have my life planned out for the next 8 years. As to what that decision is, you'll have to watch and find out.
Watch Keir in the final episode of Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands at 9pm tomorrow.
- Read Andy's blog post about taking part in the programme
- Find out what inspired Lucy to become a Doctor
- Watch previous episode of Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands