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www.networkshe.com9Vocation, Vocation, VocationMeet the women whose careers are more than just a jobhis trade with patience and good humour. Initially in awe of this figure of authority, I had absolute faith that now he was here, my father would be all right. After all, that was my only experience - if you were ill, you saw the doctor, and he solved the problem. The fact that my father was on his feet within days after the doctor's visit only cemented that belief. Before he left, the GP handed me the used needle and syringe - unthinkable in the health-and-safety conscious age we live in today - and my career path was assured. For years, I kept the needle carefully sheathed in an old sherry cork, bringing it out to inject my teddy bear with Ribena. The needle has long since gone, but the bear remains, bearing witness to my amateur The WELCOME VisitorIn 2010 Dr Sarah Jarvis and the broadcaster John Humphrys published a book called The Welcome Visitor (Hodder & Stoughton). It had taken them over five years to write, and involved countless hours of sometimes heated debate around John's kitchen table. The subject of their passion, Death. Using extracts from the book, Sarah explains how it all started. Sarah's story I announced that I wanted to be a GP at the age of eight. I still remember the day - my father was ill in bed (an almost unknown occurrence) and the doctor came to our house. My mother fussed round the important visitor, keeping me out of his way - but I couldn't resist peeking round the bedroom door to watch him at work. Out of the Aladdin's cave that was his Gladstone bag came all manner of instruments - stethoscope, blood pressure monitor, ophthalmoscope - and finally, to my enormous excitement, a needle and syringe with which he proceeded to give my father an injection. The doctor spotted me and called me in, taking me through the tools of The GP handed me the used needle and syringe - unthinkable in the health-and-safety conscious age we live in today - and my career path was assuredTV doctor Sarah Jarvis reveals through extracts from her book how her father's death was the unexpected inspiration that led her to become a GP

10Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012Vocation, Vocation, VocationI recently found myself sitting on a train next to two young doctors who were obviously on their way to London to take their membership exams for the Royal College of Medicine. Throughout the journey, they sat engrossed in the finer points of the possible cause of double vision related to damage to the central nervous system. As I listened, I found myself impressed by their technical knowledge (most of which, I knew, I had forgotten) but I couldn't help wondering if they knew anything at all about human nature. Never once in three hours did they talk about the patients who suffered these conditions as people. They were diseases on legs. But these were doctors bent on a hospital career, and for those of us in general practice, at least, priorities have changed. We are actively encouraged to talk about how consultations with patients make us feel, and the effect they have on how we treat the next patient. We talk openly about the limits of 'conventional' science, and the profound effect of intangible skills such as looking at problems from the patient's perspective. GPs in training today spend months examining the way they communicate with patients, how well they listen and how much they take the patient's concerns into account. As well as their hospital training, they spend at least a year shadowing a single GP trainer before they are let loose on their own. Here, they encounter patients when they're well - as people with families, dreams and fears. Here, they visit dying patients in their own homes, working in teams with the astonishingly dedicated individuals who know I toyed with the idea of being a ballet dancer, too. And perhaps my medical training was not quite as heartless as I remember it, with learning by ritual humiliation in front of your fellow students the method of choice. I'm sure there were consultants who cared more about how much we learnt than about bolstering their egos. But I do know that the medical students were never, ever invited to join the private discussions with very sick patients' relatives, where a far more pragmatic - possibly even human side came out. Medical training has changed a lot over the years but even today's newly qualified doctors have been encouraged to believe that failure is not an option. The only exception is in specialist palliative care, which has blossomed in the last few decades to provide hope for thousands of patients and their families every year. Here, for the first time, medical students learn that it is possible for people to have an active choice in how, if not when, they die. The trouble is that during training, the average student spends five years in the 'go-for-it' atmosphere of the hospital, and only a couple of weeks in a hospice. attempts at surgery when he developed straw-rot from the injections, and sits on a high shelf in my study to remind me of my roots. My single minded determination to be a doctor from such an early age was a source of interest, and sometimes mild amusement, to my parents' friends. I would be wheeled out at parties to explain my passion - and my rallying cry was simply 'I want to make people better'. It would be twenty years before I even conceived of my equally crucial twin role - that of helping people to die well. I may be remembering selectively. Perhaps my childhood ambition was not quite so single minded. Like most girls, I Even today's newly qualified doctors have been encouraged to believe that failure is not an optionDr Sarah JarvisJohn HumphrysYou can meet Dr Sarah Jarvis at the Network She Business Awards in November where she is our guest speaker along with former gold medal Olympics winner Diane Modahl. For award night details go to Current doctor on BBC One Show and Radio 2. Spent 10 years as ITN lunchtime news doctor. Writes articles for Good Housekeeping, My Weekly and medical journals. Trained at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. Is a GP in inner city London. Women's health spokesperson Royal College of General Practitioners. Chair cholesterol charity HEART UK. Other books include Diabetas for Dummies, Children's Health for Dummies and A Younger Woman's Diagnose- It-Yourself Guide to HealthFACTFILEFor your chance to win a copy of The Welcome Visitor go to