Professor Jean McEwan Vice-Dean for Education, University of Exeter Medical School, and Consultant Cardiologist Professor Jean McEwan initially thought that she would be a nurse – just because that was what many women of that generation did. Then, when she was only five years old, Jean watched an old 1941 film in which Barbara Stanwyck played a feisty young doctor, called ‘You Belong to Me.’ The realisation that women could be doctors was something of an epiphany, and with a change of heart, Jean was going to be a doctor. Coming from a working-class background in Scotland where no one before her in the family had gone to university, Jean succeeded in securing a place at the University of Glasgow. She completed a BSc in 1978 and qualified in 1980 with a commendation. After her house jobs in Glasgow, Jean moved to do a medical Senior House Officer rotation in Nottingham where she gained ‘fantastic clinical experience’. In 1983, she moved to work as a Registrar at the Hammersmith Hospital, and although she did not know it at the time, in retrospect, she believes this was her best career decision. She drew inspiration from her seniors Professor Sir Keith Peters, Professor Sir Colin Dollery and Dr Celia Oakley, who was one of only about three female consultant cardiologists in the UK at the time. Having learnt research methodology during her BSc studies, she undertook a PhD in the Cardiovascular Effects of Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide, which she completed in 1986. Jean’s next job was as a Medical Research Council Training Fellow, and she embarked upon a programme of grant-supported research, which addressed a major clinical problem – that of restenosis after angioplasty. In the course of this work, she both developed innovative tools to study the disease process and explored potential treatments. In 1994, Jean became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) of Edinburgh and two years later, a Fellow of the English RCP. She was appointed a Reader in Cardiology in 1998 at University College London (UCL) and spent twentytwo years there, where she led a research group studying vascular disease, focusing on novel therapies for restenosis after angioplasty. She held several university and NHS Leadership roles in support of the UCL MBBS Programme and was interim Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences in late 2012. Jean has supervised thirteen successful MD and PhD students, and her greatest achievement is the success, and career progress of her protégés, many of whom have become professors, consultants, independent scientists or have taken leadership roles in healthcare management. As Academic Lead for Athena SWAN, Jean encouraged and supported UCL divisional applications for Athena SWAN recognition and the collegiate efforts were rewarded by a series of Silver Awards across the UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences, and later a University Silver Award. From 2007-2011, Jean was the RCP London Improving Lives (IWL) Officer and Chaired the IWL committee. From 2011-2012 she was Vice-
President of the Medical Women’s Federation and represented the organisation’s views to the Greenaway Shape of Training Report. Jean was a Member of the inaugural North Central and East London Local Education and Training Board (LETB) and was recently appointed to a shared position to the Health Education England South LETB. In 2014, Jean moved to Exeter to take up the role of Vice-Dean for Education at the University of Exeter Medical School where she has responsibility for the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. She is also Honorary Consultant Cardiologist at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. Jean has made many decisions that might have influenced her career and life but does not regard them as mistakes. Instead, she believes that resilience is about being flexible and able to adapt to circumstances. Her only regret is that she did not learn more about leading and managing teams earlier in her career. * Favourite Film: Crash (2004) * Three objects Jean cannot live without: (Luxuries I love, but can live without) – Skin moisturiser, Fresh cafetière coffee, A regular pedicure
Jean’s advice to junior doctors is “It is easiest to balance work and life when your work is a pleasure, and you consider it a privilege. Look for posts where you can have a little professional control of time and flexibility but also give more to both work and family. Later, create the opportunity for flexibility and personal and professional autonomy for your team.”
Medical Woman | Spring 2017
Published on Apr 26, 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...