Being a straw hat in Medicine when you’re meant to be a shoe

For all the Friends fan I guess I don’t need ot explain this one but for everyone else let me catch you up.

It’s the first episode of Friends, Rachel (one of the main characters) has just left her husband to be Barry at the alter and she’s speaking to her Dad on the phone. He’s bemused that she would do such a thing and she starts to use the metaphore of a shoe to explain that that’s what everyone has told her to be her whole life and guess what: “What if I want to be a hat Daddy?”

I feel like Medicine is full of shoes. Old shoes, new shoes. Shoes that are a little worn out. All sorts of coloured shoes. Blue, brown and black are prefered and you can push the boat out a little bit on nights. As long as you’re a shoe you don’t upset anyone and things keep moving.

Like some of my peers a lifetime of wearing shoes doesn’t have the appeal it may once have had. I don’t want to work 9/5 for the rest of life, pay into my pension, do what is expected of me at work and then retire. It’s just not enough. I requires a very big sacrifice. I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a shoe at work anymore. I want to be a straw hat.



Straw hats start business as a side hussle, produce podcasts, challenge the set natives. Straw hats bring their whole self to work not just their shoes. Straw hats are better doctors in my opinion. Sadly, sometimes spaces don’t allow straw hats and so people leave or even worse settle. I have seen it time and time again. Young Doctors who aren’t able to flex their true selves leave becaue they feel they have to be boxed into…well ..a shoe box.

“I wouldn’t wear a straw hat until I had passed all of my exams Salma”.

Then what? Suddenly you can? In the mean time you have lost times, energy and momentum. None of us are getting that time back. What a waste.

Med school and everyone else should embrace more than just the factory mentality of new pairs of shoes to fill the NHS work force year on year. We should be allowed the space to wear our straw hats at work too. I really do believe that if we are afforded this we really are our best selves are work. Patient benefit, management benefits and the world keeps on spinning.

Anyway, watch the space because I’m certainly going to be wearing mine a lot more. The shoes I’m currently wearing are beginning to pinch my feet.

Until the next post,


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