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Interview with an Army Doctor

Isla Macneil

Continuing with our interviews of women working in the medical profession today next up we have Alice.  Alice is a doctor with the army.  

Hi Alice,  can you tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your job?

Hello, my name is Alice and I am a doctor in the Army. I am married to Alex and we live in London with our son Sebastian who is 3 months old. My father was an Admiral in the Royal Navy and my mother is a French teacher. I have two sisters called Chloe and Fabienne.

As a doctor in the Army I have worked all over the world including in Germany and Afghanistan where I looked after soldiers from Nepal who are called Ghurkas. This was a very challenging but rewarding time, spending a long time away from home but also proving healthcare to our soldiers in a very difficult situation. I am now training to be a doctor who looks after stomachs and livers called a Gastroenterologist.

Did you always want to be a doctor?

When I was at school I always enjoyed science subjects including biology and chemistry. I also liked working with other people as part of a team especially in sports such as netball and hockey.  I have always looked for opportunities to travel abroad and work in different environments. I knew I wanted to be doctor when I was 12 years old and worked hard at school to pass my exams to get to University.

What else did you want to be when you were growing up?

I think I always wanted to be an acrobat, as I loved gymnastics at school. I also love food and at one point wanted to be a chef.

Who were your role models? Are these still the same? If not, who are your role models now?

My parents were big role models to me but I never had a specific role model in the world of medicine. I am now inspired by people who are dedicated at their job, have strong morals and are honest and kind. Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah in athletics and Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela are all people I look up to. 

What training/qualifications did you need to gain?

At School I needed to get good GCSE results and then 2 A’s and a B at A-level. I then went to university to study Medicine for 5 years. After university I worked for 2 years as a junior doctor before spending 8 months learning more about the military side of being a doctor.  When you are a doctor, the training never stops as you are continually learning new skills and specialising further.

What are you favourite things about your job?

One of the great things that I love about my job is working as part of a big team.  It is always very busy at work treating patients all over the hospital, from emergencies in A+E, unwell patients on the wards and patients with long term problems in out-patient clinics. I enjoy the challenges of finding out what is wrong with a patient and  helping them get better. I also enjoy the practical part of my job, especially looking into people’s stomachs with a camera called Endoscopy.

Is there anything that you don't like as much?

It can sometimes get very busy and you cannot spend as much time as you would like talking to patients and their relatives.  The number of hours you work can sometimes be very long and I have had to miss special family and friends occasions such as weddings in the past.

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Being an army doctor is a very rewarding career involving lots of hard work and sacrifices. Whatever you decide to be, always be enthusiastic, honest in your work and do something that makes you happy and fulfilled.


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