juggler, life saver, figuring it out

Rosie Crombie is a Registrar Doctor who specialises in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She is also a military wife. Applying the ‘we’ll figure it out’ approach, Rosie manages to save lives, be a Mum and even walk her dog!

What are your qualifications and career background?

I qualified as a doctor in 2009 from Leeds University with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MbChB) and a Ba in Biomedical Ethics. After that I rotated around hospital placements for a few years before spending a year working in New Zealand whilst my now husband, James, was at Sandhurst.

I then worked in Reading whilst he was at Minley and obtained a Diploma from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and also one for Reproductive Health in Developing Countries before briefly working in Uganda whilst James was in neighbouring Kenya.

Since we married in 2014, we moved to North Yorkshire and I have been working as a specialist trainee doctor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Leeds city centre hospitals, with some time out for two sets of maternity leaves. I completed the first of three specialist exams and am trying to rev up the energy to tackle the next one!

How did you get into the industry?

I have wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. Somewhere in my gut I always knew it was what I wanted to do. Nothing else sat right with me so I worked hard through senior school and haven’t stopped working or revising since!

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Something I love about my specialty is that it is very varied. We look after women for all things to do with their reproductive organs. This includes period problems, subfertility, the time throughout pregnancy and labour, any resulting problems from delivery, urinary problems and also any cancers affecting the cervix, womb and ovaries.

This means my time is spent between the hospital wards, clinics, operating theatres and delivery suites.

What are the positive and negative aspects of your job from a professional/ personal point of view?

My job is exciting, challenging and every day is different. I work within fantastic teams of dedicated healthcare professionals and get to meet wonderful people, who are often in stressful or unfortunate situations.

Delivery suite in particular has a lot of emergencies which occur and it is a big responsibility looking after the lives of both the mother and the baby at once. Fortunately that department usually has happy endings, but in my job, we see a lot of heart breaking situations too.

The hours are long, the NHS is severely understaffed, the pressure to always be your best is great but when I am exhausted, missing my bed at 4am and find myself in theatre delivering a baby and witnessing the first moment when a parent meets their child, I know there is no where else I would rather be.

As a Military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/ kids/ your spouses military commitments?

Like most military wives, I could write a novel on this! From a practical point of view, the frequency of postings is a major problem and due to it, James and I are aware that at some point one of us will have to walk away from the career we have worked hard to be in.

I have a fantastic training job contract which would result in me becoming a consultant, but that would require me to remain based in one place for several more years. The consultant jobs are then fixed in location too. Anyone who knows anything about the army will see the major flaw in this!

Then there is the problem of childcare with shift patterns when James is away and that I cannot be relied on for nursery pick ups as I can’t walk out of operations half way through (as much as I would love to sometimes)!

The biggest obstacle of all, however is the unquestioning belief in the military that James’ job must be the most important in the household and that I as his wife should find a way to be flexible to this. Until this belief is challenged, the majority of military spouses are going to struggle with employment, no matter what their background.

What has been your proudest moment in your role… so far?

One day I was on call for labour ward and I popped my head around the curtain to meet a new patient. There on antenatal ward, alone and worried sat one of my neighbours, an army wife, a friend. She was having a particularly bad day and her husband was working away. I was worried at first that she might not want someone she knew looking after her but she later said she was so relieved to see me.

Fast forward a few months and I bumped into her on a dog walk. Her son had just come home from NICU and I got to meet him which was a special moment in itself. My father in-law was with me and my friend told him I had saved her son’s life.

The reality was, of course, that I was one very small cog in the great NHS machine which had helped achieve that outcome but it did surprise a Colonel that as an Obstetrics and Gynaecology doctor I do more than look at vaginas all day!

Why is work so important for you?

I have worked really hard over many years to be a doctor. I see it as a huge part of my identity and as my small way of being able to help people and make a difference on this planet.

I also value being independent, bringing in an income to the family and teaching our children that women can have great careers too.

What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to get into your industry?

You need to be prepared to work…HARD!

People say that working in healthcare is a vocation and it is true, you can’t do it unless you love it. It can be exhausting both physically, with the shift patterns, but also emotionally because you become involved in some of the best and worst moments in other human’s lives.

I won’t pretend it is easy marrying the military and NHS careers together because you are both very small fish in huge ponds. Gaining as much experience as possible and remaining a generalist helps with employability.  James and I take the “we’ll figure it out approach” and by pure luck, it has worked for us so far but if it doesn’t, I do have the option of becoming a GP to help manage the demands of military life…or he could join civilian street!

Oh, and you need to be okay with being covered in other people’s bodily fluids from time to time!

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