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Dr Melanie Jones

Centenary Souvenir

MBBCh FRCA MA

Director of Medical Career Support, Wales Born in 1954, Melanie Jones’ parents were both in the medical profession. She firmly believes that children should be fully supported to make their own career choices and becoming a doctor to please your parents will not end well. Melanie grew up in Newcastle, Birmingham and London and as the eldest of three sisters, she describes herself as a ‘people pleaser who yearns to be a rebel’.

At school, Melanie aimed to just get the grades that were required rather than work really hard. Upon entry to Cardiff Medical School, she was shocked, not just that she got in, but that she would now have to do some work! After qualifying in 1978, Melanie did her house jobs in Orkney and Cardiff, and standalone jobs in Accident and Emergency and as a GP trainee. As she considered her career options, someone suggested that she tried anaesthetics as ‘it will always come in useful’. So, in 1980, Melanie chose the career that she would pursue for the next thirty years. She completed her anaesthetics training in Wales and Jamaica in 1989 and returned to full-time work. Part-time training opportunities were extremely limited. By now, Melanie was married with her first child. In 1990, she was appointed a Consultant in Bridgend, South Wales and developed interests in obstetric anaesthesia and elderly trauma patients. Her second child was born shortly after, in 1991, to comments such as ‘I told you if you appointed a woman, she’d just go off to have a baby,” said one of her surgeon colleagues. It was at this time Melanie became active with the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), campaigning for more flexible training opportunities and working patterns. She became President of the MWF in 2003. Melanie had many medical education roles, perhaps as a pleasant diversion from her Clinical Director role, and was

College Tutor and Director of Medical Education locally, followed by Associate Dean for Less Than Full-Time (LTFT) training and Careers in Wales for ten years, from 2003. She was also heavily involved with the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Department of Health (DoH) and was the Flexible Training Adviser at the College and the Chair of the UK Medical Careers Group at the DoH. In 2005, Melanie represented the UK deaneries during the Flexible Working Arrangements discussions with the British Medical Association and the DoH, which defined and promoted flexible training for the first time so that ‘all applications will be treated positively.’ Melanie is most proud of this achievement. As the new training for junior doctors was rolled out, Melanie became the Special Advisor for Careers at the UK Foundation Programme. Most inspired by anyone who asks “why?” she admires people who challenge the status quo. In 2008, Melanie turned her enthusiasm for careers advice into something of a profession when she embarked on a part-time MA in Managing Medical Careers. She graduated five years later having written her dissertation on Specialty Training and Motherhood. With this under her belt, Melanie took a career break in 2013 and a year later became a self-employed Career Development Trainer. Melanie has suffered from many setbacks in her career and is not afraid to admit and learn from them. She struggled when her father died just as she started her medical career and it took her quite some time to bounce back from this. Melanie also took four attempts at the Primary exam and two attempts at the Final, before she passed; and she felt terrible maternal guilt when she was appointed a Consultant, questioning whether this was the right move for her family. When her mother was increasingly dependent, later in her Consultant life, Melanie again struggled with balancing her career but was fortunate to have a supportive husband, peers and colleagues who have helped her at these difficult times. Melanie has learnt to “listen, not to hear but to truly understand. I have two ears, and one mouth so use them in proportion,” she says. * Favourite Book: The Tin Drum by Gunther Grass * Three objects Melanie cannot live without: My teddy bear (he’s just over 62 years’ old), Family photo albums, iPad (I tweet a lot)

Melanie’s advice to junior doctors is “Look after yourself (it is OK to ask for help) and look out for your colleagues (ask are you OK?). Aim for perfection and accept good enough.”

www.medicalwomensfederation.org.uk

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Medical Woman – Magazine Centenary Issue, April 2017  

The magazine for the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK which aims to promot...