A Word From Our Founder
Its great that you have found your way to this web site and in particular this page as here I can explain briefly how and why, twenty years ago, I ended up resigning from two NHS posts within six months of each other plus why and how I set up Medical Forum.
Do not do this! As I was in a small speciality (eyes) - resignations do tend to get noticed! This was (with hindsight) professional suicide and is not something I would recommend to anyone now!
The benefit of hindsight: I now know it was the right thing to do - but at the time I was full of doubt and stress. It was quite unexpected to end up having two fellowships yet feel something wasn't right. To leave my career with no real plan either - was, as many said at the time - completely bonkers and probably, on balance, also not to be recommended!
The folly of making assumptions in ones career: I floundered around for a while doing some private sector work, some ophthalmic practitioner sessions etc. However it soon became clear that these options were also not going to satisfy my ambtions. But what were these? I had assumed for more than ten years of my life that my route was in health care.
Looking for careers advice: From within the NHS the advice was both uninspiring and very paternalistic - "be a clinical assistant" or "be a GP". Now't wrong with either of those - but I had already rejected those options for what I felt were good reasons. Commercial career consultancies were the next step. I spent well into four figures on several occasions only to feel that nobody had really understood where I was coming from, the skills I had gained from medicine and where my motivations lay.
So what did I do? I felt very alone and utterly lost. Yet something made me take action (probably more like a grasp at a straw if the truth were known). I placed an advert in the BMJ Classified as it was then.... "we meet in a wine bar in London every first Thursday - come and join us to talk about your career". This was an expensive advert for an individual to fund each week - but I just had to do it. And the phone started ringing - with my dear late Mum taking the first calls. The name Medical Forum emerged from our chats together in the kitchen.
Doctors emerged from the woodwork: People called from Enfield and Hammersmith, Luton and Staines - fine for London meetings. But when calls starting arriving from as far a field as Glasgow and Exeter it soon became clear that a London based meeting wasn't going to be accessible to those who needed it. The idea for a workshop emerged - especially after some doctors attending the London meeting made it known they were already in some really unusual careers and had turned up merely to network with other doctors (having missed the company of medics). The first workshop "What else can a doctor do?" was launched in 1990.
The first web site: Lots has happened since then. I could write pages on how things grew, the problems faced and challenges met. This web site for example is number seven! I wish I still had "mark one" - it was cringeworthy - I did it myself using a book on how to make a web site and it was launched in 1995 or thereabouts - near the beginnings of the internet. All those jazzy coloured "wallpaper" backgrounds - arrgggh!
What happened to my career? The most wonderful thing about starting Medical Forum has been the people I have met and the realisation that every single person has exceptional talents one way or another. Occasionally someone wants to or should or has to change career but more often than not - there is a niche that can be made or unearthed, a previously overlooked option revisited or a way of improving an existing career simply not seen by the person trying to figure it all out on their own. All in all I have been inspired and impressed by all those who have had the courage to engage in the Forum's activities. I even found my own true vocation - in Medical Forum itself. A big thank you to all who have been through her doors and all who have supported her.
Yours most appreciatively