Issue 7

I did it My Way

I have been asked to write an article for Caswell Chat and was honoured to do so. My remit was broad so I thought that I would write about how I came to be a Specialist Registrar at The Caswell Clinic. It stared in my early teens when my father brought home a Victorian medical textbook from an auction that was full of all sorts of inspiring illustrations such as mustard poultices, tapeworms and diphtheria. My mind was made up and I left home at the ripe age of eighteen to begin training at Cardiff Medical School. These years I remember with pleasure as I was in the privileged position of being involved in people's lives and having a good time being a student. When I left Medical school I trained to be a GP however I found that the allocated 7.5 minutes per consultation was totally inadequate. The truth is that my style probably wasn't suited to general practice. I soon realised that for me, mental heath problems were the most interesting and it gave me a lot of pleasure seeing people getting better. It taught me that a mental illness could be far more disabling to a person than something like a broken leg.

I decided to start my psychiatric training and had the good fortune to work with some fantastic psychiatrists and teams that really fuelled my enthusiasm. I then came across an advert looking for a doctor to work in Cardiff Prison, which sounded like a challenge. I was right, no two days were ever the same, most of my time was spent treating mental illnesses and I loved the job. I decided that it was important to complete my psychiatric training, which involved taking exams, so I had to leave Cardiff Prison.

Another important career change for me was working in a research unit trying to find causes of schizophrenia. As I was master of my own time, it meant that I could spend as much time talking to people about their experiences as I wanted, which gave me a huge insight into what people experienced as part of their illness. I still work on this research but I have not had any Eureka moments as yet, but I am still hoping. During this time I passed my exams and became a specialist registrar. A specialist registrar is a person who has passed their postgraduate exams and is in higher training. This is usually between three to four years, and then you are ready to be a consultant.

I completed my general adult psychiatry training whilst waiting about 3 years for a post to be advertised at the Caswell Clinic. It was well worth waiting for, when I tell people what I do the usual response is "how interesting" and it is, thanks to all the amazing people I meet.

I can truly say that my working life bears no relation to that book that my father brought home many years ago, which I think on balance is a good thing!

Gaynor Jones Specialist Registrar