Patrice Baptiste is a General Practice Registrar(GP). She is also the founder and Director of DreamSmartTutors, an organisation that aims to help students successfully apply to medical school as well as educate and inform them about life as a doctor.
Tell us about your current job responsibilities.
I currently work as a General Practice Registrar (GP) in a GP surgery. My week is a combination of seeing patients in clinic and teaching sessions I have with my supervisor, other GP’s at the surgery, consultants and other health professionals.
Outside of work, I run my company DreamSmartTutors which occurs on weekends and weekday evenings plus any spare time I might have during the week.
Why a career in medicine?
One of the reasons I chose medicine was because I loved to learn and in medicine you are constantly learning new things! I also wanted a profession, a career, and I felt that medicine suited my personality. Lastly, I felt that in selecting medicine I would have a large number of opportunities and doors open to me in the future.
I enjoy the fact that I am developing as a doctor. I enjoy seeing new things and learning how to manage complex conditions.
Being a general practitioner can be very demanding, for example, it can be emotionally and mentally draining. However, at the same time, I see a wide range of patients; some can be quite challenging,- they might be angry or upset due to ongoing stresses in life or mental health issues.
Some may have chronic and complex medical conditions that are difficult to manage. I think that seeing such a variety of patients everyday makes me a better doctor; I’m improving my communication, clinical, prioritization, time-management skills and more. I am continuously learning and growing, not only as a doctor, but also as a person.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work? What strategies have you developed for tackling that challenge?
The most challenging aspect has to be trying to achieve a good work-life balance. At times, especially in particular jobs during training it can be incredibly hard to maintain interests outside of work and relationships with friends. At times during my training,m I realised that I was spending less and less ‘quality’ time with my family. There were weeks and months where I was working most weekends and evenings. Training is tough, there is no doubt about that, but when I do have time I try to spend it wisely.
I have also realised that positive thinking is so crucial. Thinking positively in most situations – and recognising when you are thinking negatively – can help you cope with certain things in order to achieve what you want.
What has been the most defining moment in your career to date?
The day I became a doctor was life changing for me. Even when I started working as a doctor it was strange. Being called ‘doctor’ was something that took a while to get used to. After all those years of hard work and sacrifice I was finally a doctor and that meant so much to me.
Best piece of career advice you have ever received? And who was it from?
My parents have always told me to have confidence in myself and my abilities. Even though I was always academically bright and always did well at school and medical school, I still lacked confidence in myself.
Looking back I suppose it was because I wanted to become a doctor so much and the path was not an easy one; I was always making sure I worked hard in everything I did to ensure I achieved my dream. Also, with medicine there is always so much to learn and remember in addition to the constant pressure of exams and assessments. This can easily make someone doubt themselves!
Away from your work role what are your passions?
My passions are writing medical and non-medical articles, speaking to others in order to try to inspire, empower and encourage them to pursue their passions and dreams. I am also passionate about teaching and helping others who are less fortunate than myself.
I also enjoy being creative and I do this through writing poetry and playing the piano. I really enjoy exercising especially running and cycling.
What are the three (professional or personal) books/websites/ or resources that you would recommend to others?
I think for the younger generation I would recommend books by Malorie Blackman. As a teenager I remember reading a number of her books and I could not put down the Noughts and Crosses books- they were really well written.
I have to mention my own website: www.dreamsmarttutors.com because in addition to the content for medical school applicants, there are also sections that are inspiring and thought-provoking for people of all ages.
I would also recommend the Black History Month website because there is a lot of important information about Black history. I believe Black History should be all year round, not just for one month in the year.
What do you know now, that you wish you had known as you started your career?
I wish I had known more about the organisation I was entering into (the NHS) and the issues surrounding it. Of course after working within the NHS for a few years now I know a lot about it! This knowledge is something I ensure I pass on to others considering medicine as a career and those studying medicine now.
Do you have any advice for women entering your industry?
I think it is so important to know who you are, know what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you want to study medicine and work as a doctor you have to be a good communicator. A large part of my job is communication; both written and verbal. Even today I am still working on my communication skills. For example, breaking bad news to a patient requires great skill. You also have to be able to adapt quickly to new situations and be able to work in a team effectively. As a doctor you are constantly moving around and meeting new people and working in new teams. You are often being thrown in at the ‘deep end’ so the ability to adjust quickly to situations is a must.
If you do your research about medicine and then try to match it to your personality then you will be able to quickly work out whether medicine is for you or not. This applies to any career too.
If you weren’t in this role what would be your alternative career?
That is difficult because until recently I was only really focused on medicine. But I would have to say that outside of medicine I am a really good teacher and I enjoy helping and encouraging others to learn.
I think I would be suited to a university lecturer role or possibly a writer; educating and informing others of important issues. The other career would possibly be something very creative like a musician, because I think that there is a freedom that can be gained from music and other creative pursuits.
Connect with Patrice:
Patrice was a finalist in the STEM category of the 10th Annual PRECIOUS Awards