Posted: 3 March, 2021

Careers Week 2021: Florence Interviews her Neurosurgeon Mother

Careers, General, Interview, News, Senior School

Enter Florence:

Putney High Year 7 Student, keen musician, drama lover and, today, Careers Week interviewer of her mum, a Consultant Neurosurgeon.


Florence asked her mum some questions about her studies and work experience so that she, and her fellow students, could have an insight into what it takes to be a neurosurgeon.

I found it really interesting to see all of the different aspects of being a neurosurgeon, and enjoyed it very much.

Florence G.

Hi Mum, so…

What subjects did you study at school?

GCSE: English language, English literature, Maths, French, Geography, History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics

A level: Biology, Chemistry, Physics
How did you first get into your career?
I’ve always been fascinated with the brain. My first degree was in Experimental Psychology at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and then I went on to complete a PhD in Cognitive Function in Multiple Sclerosis at the Institute of Neurology, University of London, and finally read Medicine at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, going on to specialise in Neurosurgery.

The best part of my job is helping people, by that I mean making a difference.

What does a typical day look like for you?
My working day usually starts with a ward round, on which I see my in patients. I may then spend many hours in the operating theatre (I specialise in surgery for patients with brain tumours, which is sometimes undertaken with them awake), or I may have an outpatient clinic, in which due to COVID-19, a number of the consultations are carried out on the telephone. However, patients with brain cancer often come into the clinic so we can discuss together with the oncologists the best way to manage their disease. I supervise a number of students and junior doctors providing teaching, and may also have meetings to discuss service development and quality improvement. And that is my day!
What is the best part of your job? What is the worst part of your job?
The best part of my job is helping people, by that I mean making a difference, so when I take a brain tumour out it allows the patient to regain function, or if they have cancer, it may not cure them, but it does allow them more time to spend with their family and loved ones. Sometimes when I’m on call, I might take a patient with a head injury to theatre and save their life. The worst part of my job is probably the frustrations that working in such a big organisation like the NHS brings – there are a lot of meetings!

Ultimately it’s important to have a passion for the job you end up in.

What sort of skills do you think you need to be successful at your job?
There are lots of skills necessary, I think first of all, as a brain surgeon, you have to have good manual dexterity and absolute attention to detail. Another really important skill is that of communication, being able to empathise with your patient and their family, but also maintain that professional ability to deliver accurate information and help them in decision-making regarding their management. You also need to have a very strong work ethic!
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow your career path?
It’s a good question, I think ultimately it’s important to have a passion for the job you end up in. I think in the initial stages it’s important to enjoy all aspects of medicine, because you never know when they’ll come in useful, and then as you progress through your career focus in on an area, and work hard.

Interview by Florence G, Year 7.

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