Alex is a GP Partner at Torkard Hill Medical Centre in Nottingham. Last September he returned to School to talk to Year 11 pupils about Men's Health.
What were your favourite subjects and who were your favourite teachers at School?
I tended to favour the sciences and this may have been because Messrs Hilton and Spielmann and I would often be sitting at the back of the classroom. I think our chemistry teachers (Colin Chambers, Alan Prince, Elaine Greenhalgh) were often surprised how three such individuals could always manage to pull off successful practical experiments without much effort!
My favourite teacher was Roger Whitten. I really enjoyed his history lessons and his style of delivery. He was very passionate about teaching and was a genuine inspiration. I also enjoyed two Trek Camp trips with him and sharing a few beers at Christmas time after we left School. I stood outside the School in 2007 when his funeral cortege drove passed and to this day think about him at least once a month.
What further study have you undertaken since leaving School?
I studied Medicine at Nottingham University when I left school in 1996. I then did some postgraduate exams to get my MRCS and MRCGP qualifications. My first exam was my entrance exam to Bolton School in 1989, my last was in 2011. I think I can stop now, though I never stop learning!
What does your job involve and how did you progress to your current role?
I am a full time GP Partner in Nottingham. The route was somewhat convoluted with initial surgical training in hospital and then a career change in 2005 towards General Practice. I was lucky that I became a Partner immediately upon completing the GP training scheme.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
My main influence on my career choice was a family friend, Dr Chris Moulton. I am not from a family of medics and Chris allowed me to spend considerable time shadowing him and doing summer spells in the local A&E department in Bolton. He did try to put me off a career in medicine at one point, but on reflection both he and I think I made the right decision to pursue it!
Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is a tricky one. I suppose my dad instilled a strong work ethic in both me and my brother (James Brodie, former Head Boy at Bolton School), so I think Ii should chose him.
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Communication is key to being a good GP/Doctor and the ability to explain often complex matters in a simple way is essential. I tend to apply the ‘granny test’ to most of my consultations. In other words, how would I expect someone to treat or talk to a member of my family should they ever be in the same situation? Also the ability to be honest and knowing when to let someone else help if you aren't able to get to the bottom of a problem.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the variety of my job. I have a varied case mix and my surgical background means I still get to operate in hospital from time to time and do specialist clinics. My local GP patients seem to like having me as their GP as I can sometimes offer practical treatments/procedures without the need to go to the hospital.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
The current biggest challenge in my role is how to balance patient demand with finite resources and an ever-increasing expectation. The NHS is under considerable amounts of pressure and many of my friends and peers from University have left to pursue careers in other countries as a result.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?
My greatest career achievement would be getting to where I am today. I have considerable influence over my own working practice and I am effectively a small business owner, too, which brings with it its own challenges and rewards.
How did Bolton School help you to be successful in your chosen career?
Bolton School helped by getting me focused on achieving the best A Level results I could to get into medical school. I recall having no offers in the run up to results day as I wasn't predicted to shine. Then on the morning of the results I had three offers even before I went to collect them! I particularly remember the support that Headmaster Alan Wright gave me around that time; he had every confidence in my ability and I can still remember when he handed me my results envelope with a big grin on his face. Thanks, Alan!
What advice would you give to our pupils interested in your field of work?
I would encourage those pupils with an interest in a career in medicine to do their homework first. Research the different areas you might be interested in and try to get some form of practical experience, which I gather can be harder to sort out these days than it used to be. Finally, exam performance is important but certainly isn't everything … some of the cleverest people I know would be terrible doctors!
Did you enjoy speaking with current pupils at the event?
I really did enjoy coming to School to talk to the boys about Men's Health. The boys seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say and I would be more than happy to return to talk again if invited! It is also 20 years now since I left School and I recently attended a reunion for my class year – it was good to catch up with fellow Old Boys and Girls!