Anne Caley: The Clegg Scholarship

This blog is about my time as a BMJ Clegg Scholar.  The Clegg Scholarship gives medical students from around the world the opportunity to learn about medical journalism in a two month placement at its London offices. 

I applied as a final year medical student at the University of Leicester. I took my finals examinations earlier this year and am due to start as an FY1 doctor in the Oxford deanery in August (fingers crossed). 

I started my medical degree a little later than most – at the ripe old age of 30 – with a place on the accelerated graduate course.  Having done my first undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology at Oxford University as well as studying for a Masters degree in Occupational Psychology (University of London) whilst working full time, I was no stranger to stress or the limited social life that intense studying can impose.  However, it soon became apparent that the insertion of ‘accelerated’ in the title of this graduate course refers to rapid onset of grey hairs and wrinkles which arrive shortly after sitting 30 academic exams in the first year of study. 

Before embarking on a career in medicine, I worked in the financial investment market – a career that involved working for a couple of the big city banks, a smaller ‘boutique’ investment firm and a division of HM Treasury.  Whilst the roles and responsibilities kept me interested for the majority of time, I had a ‘niggling’ feeling of ‘not quite fitting in’.  The concept of making ‘rich people richer’ didn’t sit well with me and I became increasingly disillusioned and unfulfilled with my career choice and felt trapped by the expectations of the ‘City’.

I took the decision to study medicine following the death of a close friend. I left his funeral inspired – I wanted a career which was fulfilling, challenging and dynamic, and to coin the cliché used in interviews by most medical students, I wanted to ‘make a difference’ to people’s lives.

Ultimately I envisage working as a general practitioner in primary care, but I also want to be involved with providing effective communication to individuals with the intention of inspiring them to take responsibility for maintaining their health and well being.  I am aware, from my previous professional experience, that the sharing of intellectual capital amongst co-professionals is vitally important if the overall standard of ‘service/care’ provided is to be improved.  So with the hope of learning the appropriate effective communication (which I believe is crucial for this to be carried out) I applied for the Clegg Scholarship.

So here I am.  I have been at the BMJ offices for a couple of weeks now and have just about settled in (notwithstanding a shaky start involving Lotus notes, hot desks and the fact that according to one secretary, ‘no-one was expecting me’!).  

I read the remit sent to me by the student editor in the weeks prior to my arrival, so it was with trepidation that I turned up on the Monday morning with the following paragraph etched in my mind:  “we [BMJ] are not a course–there will be no instructions, no lectures, no tutors, and no official guidance. You should not expect to be spoon-fed. In other words, it is mostly a self-motivated internship…”

I’ll let you know how I get on over the next few weeks.