I suppose so - my Dad's a GP in Auckland, New Zealand and I have a few cousins who are doctors. I got interested in medicine by flicking through medical journals and seeing the graphic pictures when I was seven or eight. I went to an all-girls school that steered us towards the professions, but medicine held the most appeal for me.
Ah, the glamorous world of ER.
More like NZ, actually. I did my medical training down under in New Zealand - three years of pre-clinical study followed by three more years practical experience doing procedures on wards. I liked psychiatry best - you get to meet a vast range of people and problems. You're dealing with individuals and they're all different.
Nice people, bonkers working hours then?
We're lucky in psychiatry - the hours aren't as bad as, say, surgery. On the other hand, the job is emotionally exhausting and stressful. In New Zealand I was never expected to work right through a weekend and then the weeks either side, as I am here sometimes. But apart from when you're on call, you can generally finish at five and have a good quality of life away from work.
I love Latin music and salsa dancing...
... and I go to the gym and run in the park a couple of times a week, depending on the weather. I recently tried rock climbing - well, it was more climbing over boulders, in a forest outside Paris, actually.
Are you going again?
I bloody ought to - I bought the shoes! I also love classical music; I played the piano seriously until I was 18. I enjoy films, but I haven't got a TV in the flat.
So how come you ended up in the UK?
I first came to England in my final year. I met a man on a blind date in Paris, which brought me back again. London attracted me. I like the vibrancy here and it's a good base for travelling Europe.
Take us through a London day, then.
I share a small but cosy flat with a family friend. I get up at 7.30am and I'm out the door by 8:20 and in the tube. The job of the liaison psychiatrist is to assess people in general hospitals whom staff consider have a mental health problem. You can get anything from one to five new referrals a day. It could be anything: a clinical depression brought on by a physical illness; a heavy drinker with DTs; someone with post-operational confusion. The rest of your time is spent writing reports and trying to find a bed for a patient on an appropriate unit.
How do people react when they discover you're a quack?
Watch it! I am treated differently when it's known I'm a psychiatrist. If I'm asked what I do I'll say I'm in the medical profession. Then people assume I'm a nurse, so then we'll establish I'm a doctor and then it will come out that I'm a psychiatrist. They think I'm going to analyse them! Sometimes I just tell them I work for a charity and if they ask which one I tell them it's the NHS.
How long do you plan to do the job?
Well, the biological clock is ticking away - if I'm going to have kids it will have to be in the next five years. I don't want to be an old mum. Career aspirations and a relationship compatible with it will determine whether I have children. I appreciate masterful men who make decisions.
Do you, indeed?
Yeah. My boyfriend - he's a medic too - has a passion for mountain climbing, which I love. Climbing, like medicine, makes you aware of your own mortality.Reuse content