From triple helix - Winter 2012 - Changing Direction [p18]
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Sarah Maidment stares the experienceof changing specialties.
'I think you'd be better suited to General Practice.' My mother'swords hung heavily in my mind. I had received offers of specialty training in paediatrics from two different deaneries. Not one but two doors had opened for me in paediatrics. I felt this was where God wa sleading me. The question in my mind was not, 'which specialty?' bu rather, 'Which deanery?
' 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight' (Proverbs 3:5-6).
My parents, both doctors, inspired me to study medicine. I had always thought I would follow in their footsteps, training in general practice. Throughout medical school and my Foundation jobs, I discovered I enjoyed paediatrics. Having been encouraged by a number of influential, enthusiastic paediatricians, a medical school prize and a publication, I started to consider seriously a career in this specialty. Ultimately, I wanted to serve God and glorify him in my work- whatever I ended up doing- and to train in a specialty that I could usefully take abroad to a developing country.
'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart' (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
I applied for Paediatrics in the two most competitive deaneries in the UK, so I thought it would be wise to apply for general practice as a back-up option.
This was a stressful time for my peers but I had a real sense of peace, knowing that God was in control and that whatever happened the outcome was safe in his hands.
'And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose' (Romans 8:28).
I found the transition to specialty training particularlydifficult. I had moved to a new deanery, leaving behind all of my friends, church and a hospital where I was known, trusted and 'knew the system'.
I found paediatrics stressful: screaming children, anxious parents. Even a simple task such as taking blood became a mammoth undertaking, requiring several pairs of hands, a box of toys and a great deal of nerve. I struggled to 'perform' to the level of perfection expected of me.
It was a busy hospital in a deprived area, with a demanding,exhausting rota. I felt unsupported by my seniors. There were times when I arrived at work in tears. This wasn't me. It was a real challenge to be a shining light for Jesus in the workplace when I was struggling to be joyful in my work.
'Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus'(1Thessalonians 5:16-18). Thankfully, God had prepared the way for me. Despite leaving behind my 'social network' I quickly settled into a local church and joined a home group. My new church family gave me a tremendous amount of support through this difficult time.
It was becoming clear that paediatrics was not the career for me. I was going to have to make some important decisions. Training in paediatrics would mean at least seven more years of shift work. I would still be working night shifts as a consultant. It would be a challenge to combine this career with my extra-curricular interests. I had just started racing for a women's cycling team and longed to serve more actively at church. I had to consider the 'contextual'factors. Would things have been different if I had started my training in a different hospital, or with friends and family nearby? Would the grass really be greener on the other side?
After much prayer, I talked things through with a consultant whomI trusted and decided to apply for GP training.
Interviews came round. I was more nervous the second time round but I felt better prepared, having had an extra year of experience. I trusted that God had a plan and I was open to the fact that this might be to struggle on and serve him in paediatrics.
I was overjoyed to be offered a place on the Oxford GP trainingscheme. Rather than rushing into a decision, I spent time praising God and seeking his guidance.
So where was God in all of this? Why would God open doors into a career in paediatrics and then seemingly close them again? Did I spend enough time praying and committing everything to the Lord the first time round? Could this year in paediatrics be preparing me for something in the future? I felt God was leading me into general practice, so I accepted the offer.
Changing specialties was the best decision I could have made and I don't have any regrets. Once I had settled into another new hospital and overcome my fear of relatively enormous cannulas, I started to enjoy work again, arriving with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, overflowing with joy that only comes from the Lord. 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance' (James 1:2-3).
'I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 3:14).
Sarah Maidment is a GP trainee inOxford and a member of the CMF Junior Doctors'Committee.