This month I spoke to a special friend of mine - Dr. Katie Sleeman. Dr. Katie and I studied Beauty Therapy together back in 2003, and after a good solid start to her career (in fact, Katie excelled as a Beauty Therapist!) she opted for a complete career change and decided to study medicine.
A change in career or choosing to commit to many solid years of studying is daunting for many. Dr. Katie has now graduated and is working as a Junior Doctor at Christchurch Hospital, is a new mum and shining in her new career (albeit some challenges along the way).
I hope you enjoy reading about my inspiring friend and her bold decision to make a massive career change - and how she thrived in the process.
**Tell us about you Katie**
Hi guys, I'm Katie. I spent my earlier years as a Beauty Therapist. Now I'm
a Doctor and I'm a first time mum to our beautiful baby girl Mia.
I graduated as a Beauty Therapist 2003 (wow that's a super long time
ago!!) Initially I worked on the cruise ships, working on Sovereign of the
Seas in the Bahamas. I then returned home and worked at Nicola Quinn Beauty and Day Spa for 5 years. While I was studying medicine I worked with an amazing and inspiring doctor - Dr Safari at Dr safari Appearance Medicine Clinic.
**When did you decide that you wanted to study medicine?**
I decided I wanted to study medicine to become a Dermatologist (I didn't
realise then I had to do a full medical degree!) - but I went down to
Otago anyway and did a science foundation year. I was 26 (a bit more
mature) and realised I was actually not too bad with studying and I really
enjoyed it. After a gruelling health science first year I got accepted in to
medicine. I graduated with from Dunedin School of Medicine early 2015.
**What were your highlights down in Dunedin?**
I was lucky to have my Dad down in Dunedin, so I was able to spend some
down time hanging out with him. I met some incredible people in Dunedin and
made everlasting relationships with people from all cultures, backgrounds
and religions. Otago university has such a diverse culture, you soon
establish life long friendships.
I also got into Bikram Yoga, attending 90 minutes sessions after lectures
each day - this was me time, where I could mediate before and after and
reflect on each day.
**How did you cope with studying full time and working as a Beauty
You have to be motivated. It was easier to have a set plan each week.
Monday to Friday - medical school. Bikram Yoga after followed by dinner and a
few hours studying at night. I worked a 10 hour day on Saturday at the Dr
Safari Appearance Medicine clinic, so I considered this my day off from
study with Saturday evening completely free. Sunday I would take off to the
medical library and study all day, often studying well into the evening.
When I moved to Christchurch to do my clinical years 4th, 5th and trainee
intern I gave up working Saturdays, but I wished I hadn't. I actually
found I was less motivated as I thought I had more time during the weekend.
**What do you love most about working as a Junior Doctor?**
By far, the best thing about my job is helping someone sick get better,
making an ill person well and when that's not possible (which it often
isn't) just making someone comfortable. It's a cliche for sure but when you
know you're making a difference someone's life, you feel awesome!
**Do you have an idea of what line of medicine you would like to go into next?**
Once I'm finished my junior years in the hospital I will apply for GP
training. I love the thought of seeing the same patients and growing
professional relationships. Of course, I will likely end up branching of
into some Appearance Medicine at some stage. It makes sense with my
background, and it appeals to me.
**Being a new mum, how do you juggle the demands of working long
hours and shift work?**
Oh my, it's hard!! My baby girl is 15 months and she's been in daycare for
5 months. She loves it there, but we have had many sick days together. I'm
off right now with her! I work long hours, sometimes up to 16 hours a days,
sometimes up to 12 days straight. I'm about to start 7 days of nights soon,
after working 4 days.
Being a full time working mum is hard. I'm part of a
medical mums Facebook page and it gives me encouragement I need sometimes.
It makes me realise I'm not the only one! I'm extremely lucky too as my
other half Brian is very supportive and flexible with my hours.
**Any advice for people looking at studying/retraining after being in
the work force for several years?**
Just believe in yourself, don't listen to negative comments from others.
You know yourself best. Never give up unless it's to do something better.
Immerse yourself in people who inspire you and be confident.
**Is there a motto/saying you live your life by?**
Wear sunscreen! Every time I need some inspiration in my life I sing and
dance to 'everybody wear sunscreen' song! Or.. just turn it up really loud
in your car and drive. It's the best xxx
A massive THANK YOU to my dear Dr. Katie for taking time out of her super busy schedule to answer questions for Lofts Inspiration of the Month. Please show Dr. Katie some love by hitting "like" - and check out the video to her favourite song below. Some great advice in this song!