Choosing a specialty is an important decision, but a difficult one for many doctors. How do you choose the direction of the rest of your medical career?
Doctor Kathryn McMonagle explains how locuming helped her choose what she wanted to do, at a critical time in her medical career.
“Throughout high school, I loved science and the human body. I was driven to make a difference in people’s lives. When my grandmother got sick with breast cancer and became terminal, I wished I could do something to help. So I thought about a career where I could diagnose and cure people.”
A keen soccer player, Dr Kathryn studied medicine at Auckland University (New Zealand) and trained at North Shore Hospital. At PGY3, she knew she enjoyed working in the Emergency Department but wanted to take some time out of medicine.
“I decided to take a break. Lots of my non-medical friends were going on OEs [Overseas Experiences – a Kiwi rite of passage] and I thought: that looks like fun. I wasn’t burnt out but I really needed some ‘me time’ and want to get into my hobbies some more.
“[…] I was supposed to go last year, but obviously Covid curtailed that. At first, I thought about taking back my resignation but then I thought: You know what? It’s a nice time to take time off and just see what I want to do with my life.
“A friend introduced me to Medrecruit and I thought: this is amazing! I can travel around the country and work in different hospitals. So that’s what I have done since August 2020.”
Dr Kathryn has always enjoyed the unexpected element and the pace of the Emergency Department. But she’s taken the time to explore other career paths, doing stints in Paediatrics and on surgical and medical wards (“it was interesting, but I’ve realised it’s not my thing”).
Locuming enabled her to experience different specialties, different locations and what ED life is like in different hospitals.
“I’ve always been very keen on ED but I have only worked in big town departments. So the opportunity to go locuming has helped me really cement what I want to do.
“Through locuming, I’ve had a lot more experience in these smaller town hospitals, perhaps seeing sicker patients than I would in the bigger hospitals. You get a lot more exposure to things, so it has definitely helped me decide what I want to do.
“I have a lot of friends who have done their years as a House Officer and then gone straight on to a training pathway and that’s them set up for life. I don’t know about that. It means I’d be stuck in one job forever… when you’re young it’s a good time to locum and try what’s out there – and to travel a little.”
Dr Kathryn is starting her new full-time role as an ED Registrar in August 2021 and plans to do locuming on the side as she develops her skills and experience. Best of luck in your new role, Kathryn!
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