Above: Queen Mother's Maternity Hospital - left and Royal Hospital for Sick Children - right.


Below: Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Wards - left. Laboratories - centre. Residence - right.

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Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

Laboratory block on left.

Resident block on right.


Left Upper:

One wing of old Western Infirmary


Left Lower:

Junior doctors' rooms in attic



Gartnavel General Hospital



Junior Hospital Doctor

Looking back, after leaving school at 15 years of age with no educational qualifications, I successfully completed a five year bricklaying apprenticeship and gained the City and Guilds Certificate in Bricklaying. This was followed by nursing training when I qualified as a Registered General Nurse with the Orthopaedic Nursing Certificate. This allowed me to use the letters RGN, ONC after my name. During my time in nursing I studied for 'O' levels then 'A' levels to enable me to study Medicine at The University of Glasgow. Now having completed the six year course I stood with 200 fellow students in the cloisters of the University rejoicing at the result.


Following the formalities of taking a form of the Hippocratic Oath and having the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) conferred on us there was a lavish formal dinner in a Glasgow hotel. Later we hosted our own party with family and friends in our flat in Glasgow. The icing on the cake was that Mary's brother Willie with his Brazillian wife Luiza, who were missionaties home on furlow, were able to be present as were her brother Roddy and his wife Theresa.


Successfully completing the six years of medical studies and gaining the medical degrees enabled us to obtain provisional registration with the General Medical Council. This in turn enabled us to work as qualified doctors but only in a hospital setting under the supervision of a consultant. Full registration with authority ot practise without supervision was dependent on the successful completion of two six month posts in two of three disciplines. These were medicine plus either surgery or obstetrics and gynaecology.


It was common practice to arrange these junior house officer posts during the final two years of study. I had done a lot of my clinical medical sudies with Dr Olaf Kerr, consultant physician at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow and he invited me to be one of his two junior house officers for the second of the six month posts. This was to run from February through July 1973 and I gladly accepted. Having two small children by this time I was interested in children and applied to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill, Glasgow for the post of junior house officer in surgery. This was successful and the post was to run from August 1972 through January 1973.


After completing the formalities and receiving the paperwork to say I was provisionally registered with the General Medical Council, I could call myself 'doctor'. I had continued to work part-time as a nurse during my student years so I resigned from this in July and arranged a short family holiday before starting my first job as a doctor on 1st August 1972.

Willie Louisa Roddy Theresa website

Right - Mary's two brothers with their wives.

Junior House Officer in Surgery

It's difficult to remember my emotions on that day. Having been responsible for a ward and having been in charge of a hospital on night duty with no resident doctor, I think it unlikely that my level of anxiety would have been quite as high as my fellow graduates. Neverthless I was anxious. I was starting something new with new responsibilities and a completely different approach to patient care. As a nurse I had relied on doctors to take a history, examine the patients, arrange investigations, arrive at a diagnosis and arrange treatment. This was their responsibility, now it was going to be mine.


With my background in nursing I was able to establish a good working relationship with the nursing staff, especially sister and staff nurses quickly. There is a saying often handed down to newly qualified doctors, 'Ignore Sister's advice at your peril.' They are familiar with the types of patient normally cared for; they know the kind of tests usually reqired, the treatments given and above all they are familiar with the idiosyncarcies of the consultants.


I was used to working overnight on night duty in nursing but going to bed to sleep while being on call was new. The number of night time calls increased after I had been there for about a month.  Nurses changed intravenous drip bottles and added medication to existing drips, but there was an incident when a nurse accidentally injected the wrong drug. The child suffered some temporary harm but fortunately there was no permanent damage. As a result matron and the senior nursing staff banned nurses from carrying out those duties and the responsibility was passed to us. This meant many more non-emergency calls during the night. As the image below shows, the resident block is in a different building from the wards so calls involved getting dressed, walking outside to get the the patient then another walk outside to get back to bed. By this time I was wide awake and getting back to sleep while anticipating the possibility of another call, was difficult

Junior House Officer in Medicine

Final book cover website vol 2

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