Consultant Dr. Kitty says, “I am always looking for a challenge in my career”

A greeting from our Consultant Dr Kitty, who has been coming to work intermittently in Orkney. We have asked Kitty if she would like to share a few words about what it is like to work in Orkney and how she enjoys being a consultant. Kitty shares her experience and thoughts with us in the interview below.

Why did you choose to work with Dedicare, and how have we assisted you before and during your employment?
I’ve been coming to work in Orkney intermittently since 2021, initially through Templars, now Dedicare. I signed up with Templars around 2015, as I had been recommended it as an agency that got you work in “interesting” places. I have also worked through them in the Western Isles and the Falkland Islands amongst other places. Dedicare have been a great agency to work for. They are always responsive to my requests, always helpful and approachable. They are pro-active in making sure I keep up to date with administration, mandatory training etc. I have recommended them to friends who have gone on to work for them as well.

Why did you seek new opportunities within your profession, and what made you take the step to work for a recruitment agency?
I have what these days is called a “portfolio career”. This basically means I’ve never had a long-term/substantive post since I finished training! I have mainly worked through short term direct NHS contracts – mostly a year or so, or through agency work. Having previously worked in pre-hospital medicine, in rural posts in New Zealand and for Medicins-sans-Frontiers I am always looking for a challenge in my career. I now count myself as a “remote and rural” specialist anesthetist.

How was the journey to Orkney?
Travel to Orkney can be challenging. I live in the Scottish Borders so the options for me are either to drive and take the ferry or to fly from Edinburgh. The drive to Gills Bay, where I usually get the ferry, is spectacular but long. I have also taken the ferry to/from Aberdeen before. Weather can play a big part on ease of travel so it can be more difficult in the winter and at that time of year I usually allow an extra day’s travel time just in case!

Are you enjoying your job and life on Orkney?
Once on Orkney getting around is pretty easy. Kirkwall is enjoyable to walk around. The hospital has a fleet of electric cars that you can use if you need to when you are on call. (Orkney Mainland is very well set up for electric cars with chargers all over the island).
There are usually 2 or sometimes 3 anesthetists in the hospital during the working week. One is on for theatre work and one is on for any work outside of theatres. This includes helping look after HDU patients, covering any help needed in ED, cannulating and pre-assessment. Theatre lists include general surgery, orthopedics, ENT, gynae, Obstetrics and occasional GA scopes.

Describe a typical workday?
There is a morning meeting on Teams which covers all the overnight and current hospital activity and plans for the day. The hospital medical staff include a group of FY2/CDFs, 2 physicians, 2 surgeons, 2 obstetricians. There is also an excellent ED associate specialist and orthopedic consultants who work weekdays only. The staff are all very friendly and helpful, from the midwives to the radiographers and there is a real team ethos. The medical staff are a mixture of those that live on island, those that come up regularly for blocks and locums. They are an international bunch with lots of experience!

Out of hours work covers more than one would in other hospitals, since there is only a small medical team – just one junior in residence in the hospital overnight. One important thing to note is that there are no pediatricians on the island so we are often asked to help with sick children, including neonates. We are also part of the trauma team and this means not just the airway! You will obviously get called to help care for sick patients who need HDU care or to stabilise a patient requiring ITU care. These patients will have to be cared for until the ScotStar EMRS service picks them up to take them to a mainland ITU.

What do you do in your spare time?
When not at work Orkney is a beautiful place to explore with some world class archaeological sites. Within Kirkwall there is a very nice swimming pool and a couple of beaches that you can walk to for swimming in the summer (or winter if you like that kind of thing…….). There are some really nice cafes and shops in the town plus two distilleries! If you want to travel on a day off, there are busses to all the major villages and tourist sites (although not very frequent!). I have also managed to do day trips by ferry to both Hoy and Rousay.

Any other comments?
I would certainly recommend working in Orkney both for the medical experience and the chance to see the Islands.