I burnt out as a GP but in mental health I could take time with patients and, at last, make a difference

“If you’re going to reject me, then reject me,” I said. I was deep in the bowels of Leicester University, being interviewed for a place at medical school. I was 35, a fact the learned professor interviewing me returned to again and again. How would I cope with the workload? Would the four hours’ driving each day prove too much? How would I support myself through my studies? Concerns that travelled through my own mind. Unlike the questions I asked myself, though, the queries in that interview room were all prefixed with “at your age”. I didn’t see my age as a problem, and eventually I told him so.

“Reject me for the hundreds of reasons you reject people,” I continued, “but don’t reject me because of my date of birth. Your date of birth should be a bit like your National Insurance number. You need it occasionally, to fill in a form, but otherwise why not keep it at the back of a drawer and forget about it?”

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