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News > Old Girls' Association > Life as a Junior Doctor

Life as a Junior Doctor

Megan Sambrook Smith D 2012 talks about her experiences of COVID as a junior doctor...
Interviewed for OGA Chain magazine 2020
Interviewed for OGA Chain magazine 2020

Megan Sambrook Smith D 2012 studied medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. After three years of her degree, she decided to take a year out to study for her masters in global mental health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College, London. Having received her qualification, she returned to Brighton for the final two years of medicine and she successfully graduated.

Last year (2019) was the first of her two foundation years as a junior doctor at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Megan spent her first four month placement in elderly care and then moved to her second placement in general surgery. Soon after this began, the COVID pandemic took hold, all routine surgery was cancelled and Megan found herself redeployed to a ‘hot’ COVID ward, meaning that all patients on that ward had tested positive for coronavirus. It was a very challenging time for Megan - she felt like she was going into battle every day.

Having been in this environment, Megan is also acutely aware of the mental effects that COVID has on patients, families and medical staff. During the daytime, Megan was working on the palliative COVID ward and the hardest part of her job was having to pass messages between terminally ill patients and their family members who could not come in to the ward to visit. She found it heart-breaking reading letters to the patients from their loved ones. Despite these challenges, she feels she has a privileged job because she is able to have such a positive impact on people’s lives when they are at their most vulnerable.

Now in her second foundation year, Megan is working in general paediatrics in Oxford. Here she treats children with conditions such as viral wheeze (a pre-asthma state) or for safeguarding referrals made by teachers and health visitors. In the near future, if the hospital staff aren’t redeployed again due to COVID, she hopes to finish her second year with two more placements - one in acute medicine (where she will be helping people suffering with general conditions who need a few days hospital care) and the other in research. Megan is interested in perinatal mental health research (i.e. the mental health of pregnant and post-birth women) and is considering a psychiatry specialty next year.

It’s a tough but very rewarding career and we wish Megan all the best with her work and studies.

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