Consultant thoracic surgeon, Michael Gooseman, talks about the inspiration that led him to pursue a career as a doctor.
I am sure that for young people the future may often look bleak. Trying to manage the pressure of growing up, having gone through a pandemic and now facing a cost-of-living crisis, I try to imagine how it would be if I were at school again. I had always wanted to be a doctor. There was absolutely no doubt about it. However, it was not easy, and I can still remember seeking out opportunities for work experience.
I remain extremely grateful to the consultant surgeon who I spent time shadowing, for his kindness and generosity with his time. As a young person I was completely inspired, particularly with the manner he used with colleagues and his approach to patients, which was exemplary. This early experience remains one of the reasons I have committed to being involved in education – the ability to see a young person progress, develop and achieve is incredibly rewarding and I recognise how beneficial it has been to me.
For young people growing up it can certainly feel that a career in medicine is unattainable. Recent research has shown that social class is the biggest barrier to career progression. There is no doubt that disadvantaged backgrounds, of all types, are complex.
Any struggle to progress in life incorporates numerous issues – lack of support, opportunity, money and many other factors that are difficult to define and quantify. There are times when these factors can seem insurmountable. Health inequalities are another issue – I have, like many others, known numerous people who have smoked and gone on to develop lung cancer or emphysema. Now it is my privilege to care for patients with these conditions.
To have gone from someone dreaming of a career in medicine to a practising thoracic surgeon has been rewarding and challenging in equal measure. Even with the struggles so many of us working in the NHS are facing right now, I know that working as a consultant surgeon in Hull is the ideal job for me – serving a community I am familiar with. I am very fortunate to be part of a fantastic team and remain extremely grateful to wonderful support I have had. To be in a position where I can truly help and make a difference to people’s lives is something I aspired to years ago. And while I may have had doubts along the way, I’ve learnt that each obstacle you overcome develops and strengthens you.
I’d like to emphasise to every young person that there will be challenges, disappointments, and difficult moments, but even now, a career as a doctor is a truly wonderful vocation. If you have that will to serve and help patients, there ought to be nothing else that you feel can stop you.