International Women and Children in Science Day
Today on International Women in Science Day, we take a look at the extraordinary women that work at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). Here they offer advice for young women who are interested in a career in science and the medical profession.
Meet Michelle Wyatt
Michelle Wyatt has been a Consultant Paediatric Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon at GOSH for 14 years. She attributes her family and the rewards gained from treating children to sustaining her through the 19-year journey from student to consultant at GOSH.
“One of the greatest joys in being a surgeon is when everything goes well. When I’ve done a complex operation, such as an airway construction, and the result is good, the child is healthy and the family are delighted: that is why I do this.”
“Don’t be put off.” Michelle states firmly, offering advice to young girls and women who are interested into going into the medical profession and having a family. “People will tell you that it is hard, that you can’t be in the medical profession and have a family; they will try and tell you that it can’t be done. I have a very happy marriage and two children: it is very achievable to be a doctor (even a surgeon!) and have other aspects to your life. You can do it.”
Michelle is positive about the effects of having children and a family whilst being a doctor. “Having children and a family can be beneficial to being a paediatric doctor. You have a parent trusting you with the most precious thing in their life, their child. That is an incredible responsibility for a doctor and it is something I have appreciated even more since I have had my own children. I always have it in the back of my mind, this isn’t a legal document, or financial transaction, this is somebody’s child.”
Finally, Michelle offers advice for all young people preparing for, or already training to go into, the medical profession: “You have to be able to work hard, be organised, be dedicated and care about what you are doing. The most important thing is that if you want to be a doctor, you have to care. You need to be genuinely interested in people, in patients, in making their lives better.” She states, before wishing all young women good luck in their future as the new generation of medical professionals.
Meet our nurses
In the UK, only people who have undertaken a nursing degree are allowed to register and work as a nurse. This is because the nurses in the UK need a high level of technical competence and clinical decision-making skills in order to perform their roles. Nurses at GOSH might work in research, with children and families staying on wards, in surgery or even in education!
“Nursing is well and truly at the heart of children’s care at GOSH, and we are proud to recognise all the nurses that have helped to care for the children and families who have visited the hospital from across the world, past and present. From what we see on a daily basis, nursing is much more than a job: it is a heart-felt vocation, a highly skilled profession and advancing career. Nurses not only provide clinical care, but also vital emotional support to the children, families and staff around them,” says Claudia Tomlin, Interim Head of Nursing for the International and Private Patient Division.
Abbie is a Staff Nurse on Hedgehog Ward, part of the International and Private Patients service at GOSH. She helps care for children who come from around the world to be treated at GOSH, and is integral member of the nursing team on the ward.
When Abbie was younger, she decided to become a nurse after visiting two of her best friends who were unfortunately hospitalised at the time. She was amazed by the work and kindness of all the nursing staff who cared for her friends and was fascinated by the work they did. She decided to make it her goal to become a nurse.
When asked about what advice she would give to young girls interested in becoming a nurse, she simply says three words - "Just do it!" She goes on to expand saying; “make sure you get that experience that really makes you excited and enjoyable and gives you the need and want to wake up in the morning and want to go to work. The amazing children and their families are such an amazing part of my job and I love meeting and interacting with them."
"I really love my job and urge women and young girls to think about a job in science – it is literally life changing."
Bethan is also Staff Nurse on Hedgehog Ward. Hedgehog Ward is a mixed-specialty ward at GOSH that sees children from over 90 different countries under specialties such as neurosurgery, endocrinology, ENT and cardiology.
“I always wanted to work in the medical field, but I also loved children and wanted to do something that involved working with them. Nursing seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two!” Bethan explains her motivation behind choosing to be a nurse. “My aunt first got me intrigued in the profession after she said I had the qualities to be a great nurse – she should know, she is a paediatric nurse too!”
Bethan then decided to pursue a career in nursing by going to fairs and did extensive research in which type of nursing would be ideal for her.
"Young girls shouldn’t feel intimidated about joining the science field – there is something for everyone."
Abidha is a Research Nurse and joined GOSH in 2016. She is the Team Lead for research into a disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder characterised by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness that only affects boys.
Clinical research is vital for finding new treatments and improving care and existing treatments, and GOSH puts research at the heart of everything we do, to continually find new and better ways to help the children in our care. Research nurses at GOSH help organise, oversee and assist in clinical trails that help save lives.
Abidha has always loved children and enjoyed spending time with them and decided to go into paediatric nursing to pursue this passion. She got her degree in Nursing at the age of 35 from City University and hasn’t looked back since.
She offers this advice for girls interested in working in science and medicine; "girls should feel empowered about working in medicine, you can do it at any age and at any time in your life. There is no limit to what you can achieve if you just have some hard work and desire to achieve your goals." She then went on to say, "My job is fulfilling not just personally but it is able to impact these children around me."