Careers in Healthcare S2 E5 Pride Month: Thomas, Junior Doctor

Thomas is a junior doctor in acute medicine. He’s working on a training programme focusing on different kinds of patients coming into hospital.

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Thomas's motivation

Thomas’s motivation to become a doctor started when he was doing his GCSEs in England. He was interested in science subjects and wanted a job that would allow him to apply those skills. Thomas says the mix of science knowledge, communicating with people, and doing practical work meant medicine really appealed!

For GCSEs, Thomas chose science subjects and art. He says that when you’re applying for medical school, they really like to see that you’re a well-rounded person. Thomas was painting and playing in bands and orchestras, which he says helped with his soft skills like communication. When it came to A-levels, Thomas focused on science subjects but kept up music as an extracurricular activity. He says he still proudly plays the clarinet! His sixth-form college careers service was great at helping him out with preparation for university interviews.

Thomas then completed 5 years of medical school. He says that when you come out of medical school, you’re already a qualified doctor but that starts a long process where you’re working to become a consultant.

Working in intensive care, Thomas spends his days looking after critically ill patients. A lot of time and attention to detail is required in this area.

Thomas's typical day as a junior doctor

When Thomas arrives at the ward in the morning, he talks with the doctor who’s been on the night shift. That helps him catch up on what’s been happening. After that, Thomas goes on a ward round, where he’s writing out detailed notes about the patients’ blood results, what settings their ventilators are on, and all the medicine that each patient needs. He then plans who he’s going to speak with to help the patients. He could be talking with infection specialists, physiotherapists, nurses, or other healthcare professionals. At the end of his shift, he’ll have a meeting with the night shift doctor to hand over before he leaves.

Thomas says his role involves a lot of understanding stories and being able to communicate with other important team members. Being a doctor means having to coordinate care with colleagues and the patient and that happens by talking with the right people in the right way at the right time.

Top skills for doctors working in acute medicine

The top skills junior doctors working in acute medicine should have are:

  • teamwork
  • communication
  • friendliness
  • resilience
  • perseverance 

Thomas says that especially this year with the COVID-19 pandemic, resilience, and perseverance have been important. He also highlights self-care which ensures that he can be a great doctor to his patients. Having a network of friends and family to rely on is important when facing a difficult period at work.

Thomas's experience with NHSScotland

This year, Thomas has been getting more involved in the LGBTQ+ community in his Board. He says it’s vital that everyone has an awareness that lots of different kinds of people attend hospitals. He also mentions the Stonewall report about LGBTQ+ peoples’ experiences of healthcare, which made him keen to become active in making a difference at work. In terms of his experience, he says he’s never had any issues while at work but being part of the LGBTQ+ community means he’s more aware of those incidents. He wants to make sure he can raise awareness of negative experiences so that we can all improve the care we give to LGBTQ+ patients.

Equally, Thomas wants to work on expanding beyond his own experience. He says that we can all be limited by our own narrow horizons, so he tries to put himself out there to learn about issues he might not yet understand. His recent experience working in West Africa as a researcher and clinical fellow really opened his eyes not only to global LGBTQ+ issues but also issues of social justice and economics.

Thomas talks about one of the latest LGBTQ+ campaigns in NHSScotland. He says the NHSScotland rainbow badge is a welcome initiative. What’s particularly good about it is that colleagues have to earn the right to wear the badge because they must do training before receiving one. Thomas says that means it’s not just a symbol or token, but something that really signifies learning.

Recently an LGBTQ+ staff network has formed at NHS Education for Scotland. Thomas says he’s excited to engage with the network to talk about projects and workshops that they can do as a group. Right now, he thinks it’s too difficult to access information about equality and diversity in his department, so it would be great to work on changing that.

Thomas's advice for you

If you’re an LGBTQ+ person considering your first role, Thomas says don’t feel pressure to come out at work if you don’t feel comfortable, safe, and ready. You’re not obligated to come out until you feel at ease. Once you do feel comfortable and ready, don’t let anyone stop you from being your authentic self. Thomas also recommends looking out for people like your equality and diversity officer who can help you if you need advice or work with to help improve your workplace.

If you’re interested in becoming a doctor, Thomas suggests trying to get as much clinical experience as possible. For example, you might consider becoming a healthcare support worker for a short time to get experience in a hospital or clinical setting. That work experience can help you decide if a clinical role is right for you.

Find out more 

We hope you enjoyed learning about Thomas's work as a junior doctor. Find out more about different roles in NHSScotland by visiting our blog.

If you’d like to read about NHSScotland careers, including those in medicine, explore our careers.