Posted by: medicblog999 | January 9, 2011

Itchy Feet

When I used to work as a nurse, I always had itchy feet. Whenever I got settled in a job, I started to look around for whatever was next.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a plan, and I kept to it. It payed off in the end with he getting to my 5 year goal on time and becoming as proficient as a theatre nurse (O.R Nurse) as I had always wanted to be.

Then came the chance to join the ambulance service and I jumped at it. Something I had always wanted to do. I applied, sat the exams, had the interviews then started the career of my dreams.

I never looked back and surprisingly, the itchy feet seemed to disappear.

I am now 12 years in. I have never thought about doing anything else and couldn’t even imagine doing anything else. One of my colleagues once said that if they cut me in two I would be green and yellow throughout (the colour of UK ambulances).

Things change though…….dont they?

I’ve started looking, I keep on imagining…….what if??

I’m sure it’s just a phase I’m going through. I still love coming to work. I am still passionately committed to giving my patients the very best care they could hope to receive, but I can’t help but wonder……

Maybe it’s because of the MSc in Clinical Research I am doing, and once a month I go to study at the Newcastle University Medical School, and look at all the young student doctors.

Maybe it’s because as I sit in the library working on the latest assignment, I listen to the students on the tables next to mine, discussing their latest project on this disease or that ailment, and know that I could quite happily join their discussion and have relevant input into it.

I know that I am a frustrated doctor. I recognise the fact that if I could do it all again, I would actually work at school and go to medical school.

It’s too late now. My family come first and im no spring chicken, that’s for sure.

There are other options though. I could go back to nursing; I keep meaning to do some work in accident and emergency on the nurse bank.

I could work my butt off at the MSc and get a good result then try to find research work (although I know the pay isn’t as high as I thought it would be).

I have also contemplated making the jump that Tom Reynolds has recently done and go into a NHS Walk in Centre as a nurse practitioner.

Or I could just stay put and ride the wave that I am on at the moment and wait for everything to settle down again and realise what a lucky man I am to be doing this job. I know that the grass isnt always greener on the other side…..but is that enough of a reason not to try another field?

I know I am not exactly ancient, but I also recognise that I dont want to be carrying 20 stone people down stairs when I am in my 50’s.

Maybe I should change when there is still time for me to start again and move upwards?

What is my 5 year plan ?……….

I haven’t got a bloody clue!!


  1. stick in there you will see

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly Wilcoxson, paul s. paul s said: Itchy Feet […]

  3. Make a move into management?

    • Been in middle management before and didn’t enjoy it. Ideally, I want to keep a clinical role in some aspect

    • Been in middle management before and didn’t enjoy it. Ideally, I want to keep a clinical role in some aspect

  4. Mark, you probably have 28 years till you retire, so in work terms you are a whippersnapper!
    Still, if it has taken 12 years to get itchy feet you are probably in the right job.
    I’d love to retrain to do what you do.. I’m 40, but can’t afford to go to the bottom pay wise to start again. So I do get what you mean.

    • Oh my God! 28 years till I retire!! How scary does that sound??
      As I said, there is no way on this earth that I will be frontline ambulance staff at that point in my life, but as you quite rightly said, it takes a bit drop in salary to start again which is why I could look at other health professions and hope for a similar wage……..Maybe Coronary Care???

  5. Five year plan – qualified paramedic with a Masters degree, hopefully a Clinical Support Officer.
    Ten year plan – working in prehospital clinical research somewhere.
    Like you said no way I want to carrying 20+++ stone people down stairs in my 50’s!

    • Sounds like a plan matey!

  6. Yep, you’ve got itchy feet alright Mark. The family 1st, masters 2nd, the rest……..dunno, but sounds as if it will all will become clear at some point.

    • Thats what I am hoping for. Maybe I will get a flash of inspiration at some point…..Or maybe I will just be content with what I am doing and what I love, and just hope that the body lasts out!

  7. What’s wrong with being in your fifties? I am
    fifty-one and just becoming a paramedic. I understand the itchy feet though, I have tried many other things and never been as happy as when working EMS. I hope that things become clearer for you but you are good at what you do and love what you do, not many people have that much satisfaction. Don’t let the age thing get to you!

  8. I’m relieved to see you have already ruled out medicine. But the options for clinical research are seriously limited now whatever level you are at(that’s why my other half took early retirement, he is a world leader in his field so is able to play with several little friends in their labs/departments) and, as you’ve noted, hardly well paid. But it’s not just the low level of pay – that is relatively unimportant – it’s the lack of security as you spend half your life using your out-of-work time trying to find funding for the next 3 years (I’m being optimistic here) after this grant ends. There is horrendous pressure to publish to justify your existence so stuff is published that you know is not top notch or just a rehash of something else. It has been a fantastic relief to get out of that rat race and we know many people in research who would love to do the same – but it isn’t on without being willing and able to take a BIG cut in income. Retirement isn’t an option before 55 anyway and even then you have to fulfill certain conditions (minimum pension entitlement or the GMP test) and lose 5% of your pension for every year you are short of 60.

    I’d not be surprised to see paramedics taking a much greater role in primary care provision (I’m not saying that’s right but I’d rather see a paramedic than a foreign GP for many aspects of home visits/urgent care) and there is always teaching the next generation of pre-hospital care providers. Hang in there and finish this stage as the preparation for the next. Then think about where you can aim for. Thinking about too many balls might make you drop the important one.
    Nevertheless, good luck!

  9. Just do what makes you happy!

  10. Keep doing what you are doing now Mark if you enjoy it, don’t do what I did I started an apprenticeship and thought I didn’t like it so I handed my notice in. A few days after doing that I realised I had made a big mistake and asked if I could withdraw my notice, which I was unfortunately not able to do. That is the biggesr mistake I have ever made in my life so far and I am only 17 so I suppose I have a lot to learn!

  11. Here’s another question … If suddenly you could become a doctor in three years of part-time study (on a schedule similar to your master’s program), how would that change where you fit in with clinical care and systemic advocacy? Would you keep working an ambulance/car on at least a part-time basis? If so, how do you think your skill-set would change your patient care? Do you think you’d be able to make additional contributions to how EMS is organized and administered?

  12. Become a Paramedic Lecturer whilst doing the odd shift on an RRV. If 0.01% of the genuine care you have for your patients rubbed off onto future paramedics, then we’ll have one hell of a fantastic ambulance service in years to come.

    It’s so hard to learn from a Teacher/Lecturer who isn’t passionate about the subject they teach. I don’t think anyone could accuse you of not being passionate about pre-hospital care!

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