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Doctors at Work Podcast.

Episode #65

How to create a portfolio career

Mat Daniel

20/02/2024

Catherine started her career in hospital medicine, but then moved into General Practice, and now combines GP work with family life and running her company Iyasu Medical Bags. In this episode we discuss her early career decision-making, and she tells me the importance of being true to yourself and doing the career that is right for you. Many of us want to do lots of different things, and that can be done but perhaps not all at the same time! I love the story of Iyasu bags, from spotting a problem to a product that is now on the market and also supports women’s empowerment initiatives.

My name is Catherine Fernando and I am GP, mother of 4, and Founder of IYASU, a company that makes eco-friendly medical bags. I work part time in General Practice (2 days per week) in Haddington, near Edinburgh, and the rest of my time is dedicated to caring form my family and running my business.

My career path has been quite varied but everything I’ve done has given me valuable skills and experience to bring to my role. After completing my PRHO rotation in Medicine, Surgery and Critical Care I did 2 years of core medical training and passed the MRCP exam. I was given a national training number in Rheumatology but resigned from my post after 15 months as I was unhappy in the department. This was a difficult time for me as I felt I had lost my direction in life. I decided to pursue a career in General Practice and managed to secure a training post. I did Paediatrics and Gynaecology, then became a GP Registrar. Along the way I worked in Medicine for the Elderly, Hospital at Home, Sexual Health Clinics and completed all kinds of Diplomas. I am married to another GP and we have 4 children. I love teaching and am now involved in the GPST training programme, teaching Dermatology. I also teach medical students, FY2s and GP trainees at our practice.

How IYASU was born. Upon looking for a doctor’s bag for work I couldn’t really find any that I liked. I noticed that all the designs were very masculine. I looked everywhere (online) and I asked other female GPs what they used as their doctor’s bag. They were using camera bags, nappy bags, designer handbags, gym bags etc. It seemed like there was a bit of a gap in this niche market. The gladstone bag (traditional, iconic GP bag) was designed 150 years ago when only men were allowed to go to medical school and practice as doctors). Now over 50% of medical students are female and women outnumber men in General Practice. I wondered why the accessories for medics hadn’t changed to reflect the changing demographic. I started making sketches and took my designs to Business Gateway (there is a local Business Gateway Office for almost everyone in the UK) who received my ideas with enthusiasm and supported me to develop them further. IYASU (which means “to heal” in Japanese) took around 3-4 years of development prior to launch in March 2023.

IYASU produces 6 styles of Medical Bags in various colours. They contain multiple bespoke pockets for medical equipment and are made from recycled materials – predominantly recycled plastic bottles. They are named after pioneering female doctors and designed for modern female healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, pharmacists – anyone who does home visits – an hospital doctors if they perhaps have their own equipment to take between NHS and private centres). IYASU gives back to charities that support girls’ education worldwide. We’re currently supporting the AKAYA foundation – founded by Dr Khadija Owusu –We’ve also donated to Diabetes charities and Kidney research.

I’m super passionate and enthusiastic about my medical career and my business. I believe that portfolio careers build our strength and personal growth. I would never want to give up being a doctor as it is my vocation and I have trained so hard. I find enormous satisfaction in my GP work, but I couldn’t do it full time. Working part time makes me appreciate my job more, reduces burnout and means I have more to give during the days I work for the NHS.

IYASU website:  http://www.iyasubags.com

You can also watch at https://www.youtube.com/@dr-coach/videos
Production: Shot by Polachek.

Podcast Transcript

Mat: [00:00:00] Welcome to Doctors at Work. My name is Mat Daniel and this podcast is about doctors’ careers. It’s part of my mission to help others create successful and meaningful careers. Today’s episode is about how you create a portfolio career and I’m having a conversation with Catherine Fernando. She started her career in hospital medicine but then moved into general practice and now combines GP work with family life and running her company IASA Medical Bags.

In this episode, we discuss her early career decision making. She tells me about the importance of being true to yourself and doing the career that’s right for you. And many of us want to do lots of different things, and that’s okay. It can be done. And just maybe not all at the same time.

You can do all of these things, but perhaps sequentially. I love the story of IASSO bags from spotting a problem to a product that is now on the market and at the same time also supports women’s empowerment initiative. I hope that the podcast is useful. [00:01:00]

Mat: Welcome, Catherine. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Catherine: Hi, Nat. Thanks so much for having me on your podcast. Hi. So my name is Catherine Fernando, and I’m a GP in Haddington in Scotland. I work part time as a GP, And I’m also a mother of 4, and I have my own business.

So, uh, last year, I founded a company called IASU, which means to heal, And we make medical bags which are designed for female health care workers. Yeah.

Mat: And what a fantastic idea that is and I specifically Wanted us to focus today on on portfolio careers, yeah the topic for today is portfolio careers. So I’m interested in Maybe think a little bit more about your career. At at what stage did you decide that you might not want to be a full time doctor and you might want to do something else alongside?

Catherine: Well, that actually happened very, very late on in my career. So it’s a very recent development. I definitely [00:02:00] went See medical school with no other plan other than to be a doctor as my vocation. And I’ve worked in the NHS for 22 years now And, um, being very, very, um, quite career driven in the early stages. Um, so I Didn’t I didn’t actually pursue a career in general practice to start with.

I did core medical training And, uh, did my MRCP, then I progressed to becoming a rheumatology registrar And continued in in rheumatology for well, I was only a registered for 15 months and decided that that Actually, I wasn’t very happy in in the department. So I I then took the leap into general practice, did some pediatrics, Triggs did some gynecology, um, worked in all sorts of places actually care of the elderly, hospital at home, And general practice. [00:03:00] So all of that was very much full time, very exam driven, getting all the diplomas that I possibly could. So it wasn’t really until I, um, I had children that I went part time. And and then only a few years ago, I Had an idea about, uh, starting my own business, and that was actually based on, uh, personal needs because I was looking for a doctor’s bag To do the work that the clinical work that I do, and I honestly couldn’t find anything that I liked.

And I realized that actually the whole industry was, um, aimed at men despite the fact that they’re you know, it’s now 50 50 or there’s actually a few more girls going into medicine than there are boys at at the medical student stage.

Mat: Yeah. Okay. So I’ve I’ve got to just go back then. So my thought is all about is all about careers, and I’m really interested in because you’ve got multiple different iterations Yes.[00:04:00]

Your career there. So, um, can you can you tell me a bit more about how did you make those decisions?

Catherine: Absolutely. Um, So I think that the intention from medical school was to do medicine, so to be a career physician. And I I I did foresee that up until a reasonably advanced point.

I had my training number and I was all set to be a consultant. And I was just I’m gonna be a consultant by the time I’m 30, um, and I was on that path. And I think I think back And, actually, we did some questionnaires when we were at medical school, and they they sort of tried to point you in the direction of what career would suit you best. And at that point, it was general practice for me, but I didn’t want to be a GP. And I think that’s maybe because of a a kind of a cultural feeling about it that I was always very ambitious and a lot of the time I think the culture in medicine is to push the people who I’m doing really, really well [00:05:00] into hospital focused careers and and maybe think about general practice as a as a secondary type of option.

So it wasn’t until I was much much much further down the line and and many many more exams and, Um, having done certain specialty interviews, etcetera, that that actually that it it occurred to me that what I was doing didn’t really correlate with my personality and, uh, and and it wasn’t sitting that well with me. So I think it sometimes takes a lot of Time and maturity and experience to find the right career path for you.

Mat: Yeah. So it’s it’s interesting because that’s all about how There there’s a there’s expectations of of us as a profession or society or us of ourselves. Isn’t there about how we should be and and where we should be going?

And and sometimes the the our own and societal’s expectations actually, That that that [00:06:00] doesn’t serve us because it doesn’t align with what we’re actually interested in. And it’s a problem, isn’t it? Yeah.

Catherine: Yeah. It is.

It’s society, um, In inflicting their expectation upon us and us not necessarily being true to ourselves and and doing what we really feel comfortable with Inside, and I think a lot of people get pushed into certain career paths that that aren’t necessarily for them be because of societal expectations and also A a culture in medicine as well.

Mat: That must have been quite tricky because, you know, you had a national training number. You were gonna be a consultant, And you you left all of that behind, so that sounds like quite a

Catherine: big decision. It it was. It was it was quite emotional actually, and it and it also took quite a lot of interviews with Uh, deans and, um, educational department heads and things about why I was leaving this department and, Um, Yeah.

It was a it was a really difficult stage in in my life, um, and and and actually very very hard to [00:07:00] to Leave that behind and and start over again, uh, because I went back to being a an an SHO and a really, really inexperienced In pediatrics and I find find the pediatric side of things fine, but neonates, I was just terrified, absolutely terrified. And this is after, you know, working as as an adult medicine doctor in ITU and having I actually done quite a lot of anesthetics in in my earlier years as well. And and then they put me in neonates and I was like, oh my gosh. This is too much. So much respect to you for for what you do to your job, Max, because, yeah, children can be scary.

Mat: Oh, adults can be scary as

Catherine: well. But it’s an That’s true.

Mat: Yeah. But it’s it’s interesting perspective, isn’t it? It’s kind of it.

It’s it’s What, um, it’s what we’re used to. So, um, okay. So so I guess there’s also question. I’m I’m guessing [00:08:00] that all of those experiences that you’ve had, They they’ve made you a better doctor for the fact that you have had that journey. So so how how have those kind of things made you a better doctor than you are today that that

Catherine: you Well, I think I think when you’re a leader in any specialty, the life Experience counts for so much.

So any role of responsibility that you’ve had in life, all the patient encounters That you’ve experienced, the other people’s stories that you’ve heard, the people you’ve worked with, the students you’ve taught, they all contribute See the person that you are now, and nothing that you’ve ever done is a waste of time, um, because I bring all that life experience to my work and my everyday conversations with my patients and, uh, my relationships with my colleagues. So it’s, um, yes. It it’s it’s not necessarily been a straightforward path, but it’s it’s all been very, very worthwhile and I still [00:09:00] use My rheumatology skills in general practice and do joint injections for people. Um, I’ve also been a patient on the other side as well, which It is, um, a completely different story, but but, yes, it it does give you very much an insight into what it what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.

Mat: It it’s interesting because if I think of my career, it it’s maybe not quite as as as varied as yours, but I did lots of of stuff other than ENT early on on in my career, and and definitely, it’s made me a better doctor.

And, you know, particularly if I think the 1 1 of the jobs that I did involved looking after surgical HDU and and, you know, when I then became an ENT registrar and then subsequently a consultant, You know? I knew critically ill patients inside out. Yeah. You know? Not not not like an ITU doctor might, but, you know, if somebody was ill, It didn’t faze me at all because I had 6 months looking after people that that that were on a [00:10:00] surgical side, you know, really also.

So it definitely kind of contributed to making me, um, a better doctor. Um, and I think it’s a it the the changes in how how people are trained because I think that It feels like people are trained on a very narrow base, sort of at the moment, certainly compared to me. I mean, I graduated in 99, and At that time, nobody knew what they wanted to do. Like, you know, I mean, like, we we all did a and e because nobody knew, and be included. Nobody knew what they wanted to do.

Um, and that that I think that was a good thing, whereas I think now there’s a real pressure to get people streamlined, you know, onto a conveyor belt. And and I’m not sure that that’s good for

Catherine: our careers. No. Absolutely. I I completely agree.

I was saying to you, I graduated 2001, Um, and a lot of people did, uh, 6 months of this and 6 months of that and made up their own kind of training schemes, took a while to Decided on their specialty, you went to Australia. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. That, um, you know, [00:11:00] that that, As you say that that experience of being in ITU and managing really sick people, it’s it’s not just that you know how to manage the really, really ill patients. It’s it’s that responsibility And that that stress that you you can you can cope with because when you go into general practice, you’re not dealing with acutely Unwell people most of the time, but you are dealing with a huge amount of responsibility, um, and and it’s and it’s on you because you’re not necessarily, You know, you’ve not got a team around you to discuss it in that instant. Yes. You can discuss it at coffee time, um, but it it depends on your practice and how well supported you are.

So It’s it’s having that that level of of risk taking and responsibility for your patient that that all even though you’re not in ITU, you you still you still feel

Mat: Yeah. Yeah. How how do we deal with this idea that that people graduate and there’s an there’s an there’s an expectation, you know, there’s a story that there’s a way and And people just automatically slot onto a conveyor belt [00:12:00] that assigns them a certain career pathway, and it may be nothing to do with with what they want? You know, they they might want to be somebody else, but but there’s a system that puts them onto a conveyor belt. How how do we Separate those 2 things.

Catherine: I I think it’s really difficult. I I think that, you know, you have to be lucky In that situation, if you find a a good training post that suits you and nice people to support you and that you end up happy, I think Our training was maybe longer and we spent more hours and it was broader, but I I do think there was maybe more job satisfaction, um, And and maybe for camaraderie, it’s it’s really sad that a lot of medics are are unhappy and dissolatient at the moment. Um, But I can I can, you know, I can see why? I do I do empathize with them, and I don’t know how easy it It’s an ounce to change careers if if you suddenly decide that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. [00:13:00] And I I certainly found that my Ambitions changed as I got older.

Although I missed hospital team, I’m glad I’m in general practice now because it’s It’s easier. It’s sessional work, and I can balance that with with other demands like having a family. And, um, I’ve had, you know, I’ve had a mum who’s Being unwell without Alzheimer’s, all these sort of things that develop as you get older in life. And, um, and now and now I’ve got my business, and I can I can do that on some days, and I can do general practice on others because I’m at a stage in my career that I I, you know, I’m able to Switch from 1 to the other and still know luckily what I’m talking about? Uh, so it’s no.

It’s it’s hard. It’s really hard for the trainees now.

Mat: Yeah. Yeah. And maybe, uh, my final question before we move to the present, what what tips would you give to yourself, you know, if If you had to go back and give yourself a tip in, you know, 20 23, something like that, what tip would you give yourself?

Catherine: Oh, I think Just try to be true to [00:14:00] your heart and to your personality. And the you know, there’s really good people needed in every special See, uh, general practice isn’t a lesser specialty. It’s it’s just as difficult as hospital medicine and, um, we do, You know, to all the GPs out there, I think we do a fantastic job coping with all the the risk and the, You know, the the benign to the ridiculous.

Mat: Actually, I’d probably say that that that your job is much more difficult than my job because, you know, I I I I do 2 operations, um, and and there’s a vast team around me that helps. Whereas Whereas, you know, you do lots and lots of complexities and lots of shades of gray, and you’re on your own.

So I think it’s it’s I would say it’s a much harder way.

Catherine: Well, I’m sure I’m sure there’s challenges. Equal challenges in both, but just just different ones. Yeah. Yeah.

Mat: Diff diff different challenges. Yes. So tell me about IASU.

Catherine: So IASU, [00:15:00] um, was created out of a need, uh, to So you provide doctor’s bags for female health care workers, uh, because as I mentioned before, a lot of most of the bags in the market, They’re just very masculine and, uh, they’re not not particularly functional anymore for the job that we do. So, um, they’re very brown, very Like, you open up the Gladstone bag and it’s just like a big empty pit that everything goes into and your stethoscope gets tangled around your blood pressure cuff and you get In front of patients pulling stuff out and just looking really, really unprofessional.

So I wanted to design something that I would Choose as as a woman that that I would like to carry as a nice bag, but I also wanted it to be eco friendly. And and and I think I think every everybody does. You know, we’re we’re all in this because we care about people. Um, but part of that is that we care about the planet that we live in too, Uh, because environmental health and and physical health are very much [00:16:00] interlinked. So, Um, so this dream was a beautiful collection of, you know, designer looking bags that that women would desire to have, but that would be Functional for the professional job that we do and also eco friendly.

So I I I thought of this about 4 years ago, And, um, and I went to, uh, Business Gateway and told them, just said, this is what I’m gonna do. And they’re like, Quite good. So, um, so then it it’s it’s very much gradually over the past few years, um, finally become a reality. And and we we launched our collection of bags last March.

Mat: Yeah.

Congratulations. And and I saw that and I thought, wow. What what a brilliant idea. And in terms of career planning and career decision making, I’m I’m wondering What what was it about you that saw that problem and did something about it? Because you can’t have been the only person to have [00:17:00] seen that problem.

Yeah? Everybody else will have seen that problem, but you you noticed it and you did something about it. So what what kind of mindset, what Kind of a person do you need to be to to notice and then do something about it.

Catherine: Josh, that’s really hard because I’ve never been a business person. You know, I was very, very much professionally a a doctor and not this.

So it’s it’s actually very surprising that It’s me. I I think, you know, there are lots lots of other people with a better business mind, um, that that would have done a good job of this. And the thing is I had the idea and people liked it and encouraged me and they gave me a little bit of funding behind it. And then I felt that responsibility to to not have wasted that funding. So every step of the way I went, I was like, well, I I can’t you know, somebody else could have had that, and I’ve got to make this work now because otherwise somebody else’s business could have thrived.

Um, [00:18:00] and and I’ve just I’ve just let I’ve learned all the way along from other people and and I’ve enjoyed the learning process and I’ve also wanted to be a role model for my children. So I’m very much a, you know, an advocate of female Empowerment and I’ve got 3 girls and 1 boy and I was like, you can do whatever you want to do. So I guess that is the drive guide me that I don’t want to I don’t want to let my family down. I want to set a good example in in everything that I do.

Mat: I hope you’re enjoying the show.

Please click subscribe so you’ll be notified when new episodes become available. This podcast is part of my mission to help doctors create successful and meaningful careers. You can be part of that mission too By forwarding this show to 1 person who you think might benefit from listening. Thank you. Now on with the show.

[00:19:00] So there’s there’s an idea then that that happens is or the there’s a problem that exists. Yeah? Yes. Boy, are our lives full of problems. Yeah?

Yeah. There there there there’s there’s a problem that exists, but But what what’s different about about what you’ve noticed is you’ve converted the problem into an idea. Yeah? Because we’re all really good at complaining about stuff, aren’t we? Or certainly I am.

I

Catherine: spend all day No. I am too. Absolutely. I

Mat: mean, you know, we’re we’re professional moaners, aren’t we? Yeah?

Which is which is alright. Yeah? Because there’s an awful lot of challenges, so so I’m not suggesting that’s not okay. But but what you did is there was a problem, But you sort of say, okay. Well, how how do I turn that into a solution?

And you turn the problem into a solution. And that, You know, that that flick for this is a problem, how’s the solution? And not only is it a solution, it’s an opportunity, Yeah. An opportunity for you to do your business and the opportunity for you to network, to learn, to be a role model, and to [00:20:00] make money. Yeah.

I mean, in in you know, it’s just a great opportunity, but it’s that it’s flicking. Okay. This is a problem. Stuff’s not working. How can I turn that into solution?

You know, that’s kind of that that’s what I’m hearing that’s the nugget of what you did that maybe the rest of us are not doing.

Catherine: I I think what it did allow me to do was unleash that creative side of myself. So I remember being at school and Having got the grades in my in my higher exams because I was a Scottish system to get into medical school and then I thought, okay. So sixth year I can do what I want. But my school was really, really academic, and I said, I want to do art, chemistry, and biology.

And they’re like, no. You can not go into medical school and doing art. So I did physics, chemistry, and biology, and, um, it’s a family joke. I’m awful at physics, like, a level physics. So I just have to step too far For for my brain.

And, um, and I wish I’d done art, and I wish I’d done that for my whole career. I’ve never [00:21:00] had time, Um, to to do art classes, sewing, all these creative things. I’ve been a little bit dabbled with my children. Um, but but I I suppose I I’ve always always wanted to be in an artistic industry, and I think that is the 1 thing that I I miss in medicine. And I think I think you can do that to a certain extent as a surgeon, but you certainly can’t as a general practitioner, um, unless you draw on your prescriptions or something.

Uh, so I I I think there there was always a little bit of me that that wanted to to create something Something

Mat: beautiful. Yeah. And, you know, that that for me, that that’s a great example for me of doing things sequentially Because I think I think or certainly maybe the way that I think or the way a lot of people think, say, these are all the things that I want, and and I think I have to do them all at the same time. Yes. The reality is often it just isn’t possible

Catherine: to do everything.

You’re so right. Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, I I think that relates to [00:22:00] everyone. I think it relates Very much to to women.

I think we we sort of have to do do things in different parts of our life, um, because when you have young children, it’s It’s incredibly busy and you’re needed in that direction and you you can’t you you just you can’t do it all. I mean, it’s it’s great if you can maintain Your career so that you can do that, but it at all at once is is not very feasible, and you’re not a failure if you can’t Manage all that. You you you can do anything, but you can’t do everything all at

Mat: once. Yeah. Yeah.

And that reminds I remember, um, a female, um, ENT consultant, um, from Cincinnati, which is, like, the world’s premier pediatric airway center, and she always talked about having an inverted career because she says, you know, men’s careers kind of go up exponentially like that and then plateau off and kind of The women’s careers go like that and then then go like that. So so she’s it’s

Catherine: exactly the opposite. She’s absolutely right. I see that with with myself and my [00:23:00] husband, And that exact pattern. And I feel like we’re just at that point where I might well, I’m nowhere near.

But I’m just Gradually climbing up that curve to to try to to to remember his success. And I guess I always Well, we felt like I could do that because we were at exactly the same level when we were SHOs. We’re both SHOs in medicine together. We did our exams together, and I just maybe perhaps smiled a bit before him. But but but then but then he had the opportunity So whereas I very much plateaued in terms of my career, um, and only now is it is it is it just gradually rising and I’m able to Dedicate that that time to

Mat: you.

Yeah. So he so he’s he’s slowing down and you’re only just getting going. Oh, he

Catherine: wishes he was slowing down. We’ve got 4 children, so he can’t slow down yet. They’re very expensive.

Mat: Okay. So let let let’s kind of [00:24:00] go go back then to, um, to to the idea. So, you know, you there there’s there’s a problem that you’ve noticed, which everybody or there’ll be loads of other people that have seen exactly the same problem, I didn’t do anything about it. Whereas, you know, you you flicked a problem into a solution, and then you went and you did something about it. You know?

That that Kind of, to me, strikes me as as, you know, really, really key things in in in in what you’ve achieved that other people haven’t managed to achieve. So, um, And then the other thing I was interested was this idea of of commitment. So because you committed yourself and you took money, and the fact that you took money that committed you to doing that. And and you were working with other people, and you were accountable to other people. So tell me about the importance of accountability and commitment in bringing it to

Catherine: fruition.

I think I think that that was Majority of that was actually a financial commitment that I didn’t I didn’t want to have wasted that money. I could have spent that money on [00:25:00] other things like paying off The mortgage are on my children and school fees, etcetera. So the fact that I I had all I had spent that on my business Made me very, very much more, um, driven to to make that succeed. So I think that is a is Driving force in in bringing it all to fruition. And I got to this date where I actually had to take a year out of medicine as well so that I It’s completely focused on my business, and I I never wanted to lose my career.

I actually left my practice in floods of tears the day that I took a year out, Um, because I I was gonna miss my colleagues. I was going home to work at my computer for a year and and at at that point, I still didn’t know whether I was Actually, going to have physical products that I could I could bring to market. So it’s it’s it’s been difficult, but I’ve always Always honored my commitments, um, whether whether it’s, um, you know, patient clinical or professional [00:26:00] family, friends, everything. And, um, yeah, that that is a that is a driving force.

Mat: If, um, if somebody came and said, you can have all this money, I’ll give you a Hundred thousand pounds and, you know, you you can you can spend it.

It doesn’t matter. Would would would you have had the same amount of commitment?

Catherine: I think I probably would have. Yeah. Yeah.

I I think I would. I’d I wouldn’t want to waste it. I think it would could be put to To go to you somewhere else. And I I think that, um, the the principles that I have in in, you know, wanting to be a doctor and and do that, They also come into my business as well because I have, um, some of the profits are are being used. Well, I don’t actually have any profits yet.

Some of the sales, I should say, a percentage of the sales are going towards charities that help fund girls education Um, and and female empowerment. And, um, so they’re going to a foundation called [00:27:00] the IKEA Foundation, Which has been set up by a female doctor in Ghana. Mhmm. So we we are actively contributing to them with the sales of a particular type of our bags. And then when we get into profit, um, we are going to contribute 5 percent of our profits to the Malala Fund, which helps girls Worldwide, um, with education.

So it’s you can’t take the Medicare of me. You have to just Yeah.

Mat: Um, so I was gonna say, so how how does how does being a doctor help you as a businesswoman?

Catherine: Um, goodness. I think, you know, there’s actually quite a few medical entrepreneurs, Uh, out there, it’s it’s it’s not that unusual.

I noticed that there’s another doctor on The Apprentice when I was watching Last night and on LinkedIn, there’s loads of doctorpreneurs and lots of them have got tech companies and things. Those are the ones that are a lot more clever than me. So I think, you know, we we are [00:28:00] good at multitasking and, uh, just managing risk and also Communicating with people, uh, these these are all excellent qualities when you’re running a business. So And and I think, you know, you you have you have to be ethical about things. You have to be fair.

So a lot of qualities that we bring into our daily practice At work, do do you come into just, you know, running a business well and and treating people well? So And what infinite transferable skills. What What

Mat: what did you need to learn? What what skills did you lack as a doctor when you became a businesswoman?

Catherine: Everything.

Not not everything because I’ve just said so very good. Um, I really needed to learn again. I really needed to listen, uh, to all the experts and take all their advice on board. I I mean, I started designing the bags myself. I drew pictures and things that I thought, gosh, I don’t have a degree in fashion [00:29:00] design.

I need a fashion designer to do this. So, Um, you you be you become quite reliant on on other team members. I didn’t know anything about marketing. Um, I’d never made a reel on social media. I didn’t necessarily feel that I had to be the face of this brand.

I thought that the product Would speak for itself, but no. All the all the companies are like, no. They want to see you. They want to see the person behind this. You have to do this.

And that was that was Unexpected and out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t necessarily the the loudest person in the room, but I’ve had to grow. I’ve had to Make it till I make it in all of and just and, uh, and and be that person that the the PR companies want you to be. And it’s inside us. It’s inside all of us.

It it’s just in in embracing it and and learning how to present yourself. Um, I think a lot of the younger doctors are better at doing that than [00:30:00] my generation now. I get to see a lot of And sort of FYTs on LinkedIn doing incredible things. But, um, yeah, for me, I had to learn I had to learn how to do all of that. Yeah.

Mat: And how does being a businesswoman make you a better doctor?

Catherine: Oh, interesting. Goodness. Oh, I

Mat: don’t know. I wonder what what what skills do you bring from From the business world, what skills have you learned in the business world that you apply to clinical work or

Catherine: Well, I I mean, I work with Everybody.

You know, I see I see patients from all different backgrounds and I have much better understanding of what the world outside medicine Involves and what it’s like to, um, manage people and to be self employed. So I I I definitely have an insight. I mean, I talk a lot to people in my consultation and I talk about [00:31:00] everything. So I just I suppose I just I just bring life and life experience to it all. Um, I guess that might be different if I was working in a in a, I like the private industry, but I I just do NHS work.

So no money changes hands when I’m seeing my patients, etcetera. But, Um, I I am conscious of the costs in in the NHS and and provide trying to provide a quality of care. I see a lot of I see a bit of a a 2 tier system developing now. Yeah. So I I do have insight into The finances and the pressures that there are.

Mat: It’s interesting for for me that that that that there’s a parallel world that you exist in, you know, with with, you know, industry or whatever you want to call it. Yeah. And, um, and I think for me, you know, with with With my kind of career development type world, again, there’s a parallel world that I exist [00:32:00] in, and what I what I what I’ve learned in the parallel world that that is medicine is that the rest of the world has very similar problems to rehab and and you know that that Wherever you go, everywhere is understaffed. Everywhere is underfunded. Everybody everywhere is working really hard.

And that that that doesn’t make my job any any less hard, but but it sort of says, well, this this is how the world is. Yeah. So there there isn’t In I’m thinking kind of my career world, you know, there’s not there’s not a greener grass over there. No. That’s true.

I could find a sector where careers are so much better. Well, you know, there is no sector where things are better. Everybody is struggling. Everybody’s busy. Everybody’s under pressure.

And I guess what I’m hearing you outline is it’s less about about, you know, a nice middle class sort of doctor’s existence in a in a nice middle Class suburb, I don’t know the Edinburgh, so I don’t know what I don’t know what what it’s like for you. But, you know, sort of for a lot of people, that is the [00:33:00] existence, isn’t it? Yeah? Yes. So the middle class lives, middle class environment, middle class schools, and and people forget that actually there’s a world out there where where people are on very different incomes.

And and and the fact that you work in that world, that that what I’m hearing from you is that that’s a real asset to understanding what other people’s lives are like.

Catherine: Definitely. Definitely. I I’ve certainly, on maternity leave when I Wasn’t working in the NHS, become caught up in a a middle class bubble where I become concerned about stupid Thanks. And and it’s always good for me to go back into general practice, and it’s it’s very, very grounding.

And, uh, I you know, Where I I I realized actually what what the real issues are in life. Yeah.

Mat: I always remember in my clinical practice, A defining moment being sort of this, you know, like, did you bring a video of your child snoring? Yeah. Now when I’m kind of thinking, how have you not [00:34:00] brought a video of your child snoring?

Everybody brings a video of the child snoring. Yeah. Yeah. They didn’t have a smartphone. Okay.

Yeah. Thought. Okay. So, you you know, so here here’s me

Catherine: think That’s a good excuse.

Mat: Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. You know, they haven’t got a smartphone. That’s why they can’t bring a video. And and And that, you know, that for me was real insight into into into real gulf in how some people exist um, in the UK.

And and and it’s always worth remembering and not making assumptions about what other people are can afford. Yeah.

Catherine: Definitely. Yeah.

Mat: Um, how do you balance sort of you know, you you you’ve got you’ve got 4 children.

You know, you run ASU and you design and run that as a business and you’re a GP. How do you balance all of that?

Catherine: And it’s just it is not really any secret. I just I just work really, really hard. So, um, it’s, Yeah.

Um, I mean, I’m when I started IASO, I was doing a diploma [00:35:00] in dermatology with Cardiff University. TSO is trying to get all my assignments in and everything, but I just, you know, I I think a lot of us are just used to being really busy. And if we weren’t busy with 1 thing we’d be we’d fill our life with something else. I mean, I I’m sort of person that go, oh, wish wish I could have a day off, and then I have a day off. And I I’ll just I’ll just fill it.

So I just just getting the most just getting the most that I can out of life and, um, Just fulfilling every moment, being productive. But, I mean, I I I absolutely love being a mum for I think, you know, that’s that’s the best Being in my life, I really like my NHS career and my practice is is super. I’m I’m very lucky with my colleagues there. And the business is just, you know, it it’s not really a number of hours that you can say you dedicate it to. It’s it’s part of you and it and it’s always there.

So it’s it’s not It’s not on a time scale. It’s [00:36:00] just it’s just always always being done or thought about. So, Yeah.

Mat: And if anybody listening wants to see the bags, where do they go?

Catherine: Uh, so you go to a yassee bags dot com.

That’s my website, and they’re all named after inspirational pioneering female doctors as as though You can read all about them, and I really enjoy writing blogs about women in medicine who are past and present. So, um, please have a read of those 2. They’re really inspiring. And if you would like me to write a blog about you, then please get in touch.

Mat: Fantastic.

You’ll be inundated with Oflus. And, miss, let let me bring us to a close then. So what what would be your top tips for doctors at work?

Catherine: I think look look after yourself, actually. Um, do do what is true to your heart.

Follow Follow your heart and your career and you can do everything, just [00:37:00] not all at once. Um, yeah.

Mat: Wonderful. Thank you very much.

Catherine: Thank you so much, Mat.

Thank you.

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