We are all made of stories


Dr Nicky Kiernan

Last Saturday I took part in the Joyful Doctor Live 2019 Event in London. It was my first time speaking at this event and indeed the first time I had spoken to a group of doctors about my own experience of becoming and being a doctor. This was certainly not the first time that I had discussed this; I, like many medics, have found great solace and support over the years, in sharing the trials and tribulations of the job with trusted confidantes both within and outside the profession. But in preparing for the talk, it was the first time that I had put pen to paper to record the narrative of my journey which began when I was in my early teens.

I am fortunate, that during training to become a counsellor, I have had the opportunity to explore this in personal therapy and to process the turbulent experience of what it has meant for me to be a doctor. But standing on that stage last weekend, I let myself be vulnerable for the first time in sharing my own story with people I had never met before. And so, it was with sweaty palms and a slightly nervous wobble to my voice, that I stepped onto the stage, told my story and held my breath waiting to see what the response to it would be.

I need not have worried. It soon became apparent to me that I was not the only person who wanted their story to be heard. Several courageous doctors shared with us how their own relationships with medicine first began. What their hopes and dreams had been when they had first uttered those words that had led them to where they are today; ‘I want to be a doctor.’ How the experience had irrevocably shaped them, both for better and for worse.

What I learnt that day was that, just as with life itself, everyone’s experience of becoming and being a doctor is unique. There may be common threads to what we have been through but what we have seen and heard and how we have experienced that will be individual to each person.

I wonder if you, the reader, have ever really had the chance to consider how your own relationship with medicine began and how it has evolved over time?  To glance over your shoulder and look at the path you took to get to where you are today? The highs and lows, the trauma and the joys, the losses and the gains? To tell your own story, hold it up to the light and examine whether what you have learned about yourself as a result, still holds true today? To acknowledge the role that medicine has had in shaping your self-identity, influencing the decisions you have made in life and moulding the relationships around you?

If you would like some help in doing this for yourself, we at Team Joy would love to hear from you. Drop us an email and begin telling your own, unique story today.

By Nicky Kiernan

Dr Nicky Kiernan is an NHS GP, Humanist Counsellor, Joyful Doctor Coach, and writer.  She has a passion for story-telling in all it's forms and loves discovering what makes people 'tick'.


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