Graham Mcllroy, BMedSc (Pharmacology), 2007, PhD, 2012, MBChB, 2014 | Core Medical Trainee Doctor, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

Graham is now a junior doctor in a oncology department at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.  

Graham Mcllroy

Please can you give a brief history of your career since graduating from the University of Birmingham.

Since graduating from my medical degree, I have worked as a junior doctor in a few of Birmingham's hospitals.  I have enjoyed a wide variety of rotations including paediatrics, care of the elderly, and haematology.

Many of my jobs have had an academic flavour, reflecting my academic route through university.

These have helped further my research interests, and I'm looking forward to continuing academic medicine as my career progresses. From August, I’ll be starting as a haematology registrar – the next rung on the ladder, and something that I’m hugely looking forward to.

What do you love the most about your job and what is your biggest challenge?

I love being a doctor. Despite all the negative press, and the long and busy shifts, I still find my job immensely enjoyable. Every day, I get to speak to a huge variety of patients, hearing their stories, and hoping to make them feel a bit better. Things don’t always go how you want them to, and it can be tough seeing patients go through a difficult time; but the positive experiences more than make up for those, both in number and impact.

How did your degree help prepare you for your career?

I wouldn’t be much of a doctor without my medical degree, I’m pretty certain of that. But my academic training at Birmingham has been hugely influential, pushing me towards a career in academic medicine. At medical school, there were lots of opportunities to undertake ‘special study modules’ – I predominantly focussed on haematology and oncology for mine. In these specialities, I felt that clinical medicine and academic research were more closely aligned, which really appealed to me. Since that point, my interest in haematology has continued to grow, having a defining impact on my career into the future.

Why did you choose to study Medicine at Birmingham?

Like so many other people, I instantly fell in love with the campus. The medical school has a real sense of history about it, but at the same time has been kept up-to-date with all the facilities you need for a modern school. The course, too, was something that I was attracted to. The mix of traditional and self-directed teaching styles suited my way of learning. And at the time I arrived, Birmingham was at the start of something of a renaissance, which is still going on today. The city felt young, diverse, exciting – something that I wanted to be a part of.

How would you sum up your time in Birmingham in three words?

Exciting, transformative, blissful.

What inspired you most during your time as a student?

I had a lot of luck when I was at Birmingham, but absolutely made the most of it. I was lucky enough to be placed in halls with a great bunch of people who I still see regularly. University was the place some of my most important friendships were forged. Academically, the opportunity to spend some time in a research lab was the most inspirational. I loved being immersed in the research environment, trying things for the very first time, creating new knowledge. My intercalated BMedSc inspired me to seek further research opportunities, leading me to my PhD and ongoing research interests.

What advice would you give to people who are considering studying Medicine at Birmingham?

Birmingham is an excellent place to study medicine. The medical school and its facilities are world-class. They not only understand medicine, but they take great care in teaching it well. If there is something that you are interested in, or want to learn more about, there are lots of opportunities to do so, and you’ll find lecturers and doctors who will be delighted to share their research and clinical interests with you.

How would you advise people to make the most of studying at Birmingham?

There is so much on offer at Birmingham – the trick is to engage. Challenge yourself, try new things, and develop your interests and skills. There is something for everyone; once you find it, run with it. Secondly, try to keep everything balanced. Nobody can enjoy everything at medical school – this becomes obvious when you see the huge variety of careers that people take after qualifying. But you have to pass all the modules, so don’t neglect what you don’t enjoy. When the work is done, there is plenty of more fun stuff to be getting on with.