I can't remember when I first wanted to be a doctor - to be honest, I think I always have. From the days of five year old me performing life-saving operations on the toys in the conservatory to now, the excitement of 'training to become a doctor' has never left me. Years and years of training, exams, student debt and more exams have led to this one day - the first day I introduce myself to a patient as their doctor, as someone who can finally try to give them what they need.
For someone who has spent the last decade of my life preparing for this, I don't feel terribly ready - but I imagine that's how most people feel when they go on the wards for the first time. I also know there will be a bunch of very experienced, and as I have found out, very supportive and kind doctors who will be able to make sure I get it right. Being a doctor isn't about being a superhero - it's about working with a team of other incredible healthcare workers, from nurses to physiotherapists, doctors to receptionists, to help your patient.
I suppose that's the thing that really makes me nervous - will I ever be able to be the doctor I aspire to be? Not just in terms of making the right clinical decisions - but will I be the kind of doctor I'd want my own family to see? In a stretched, under-staffed and hard-pressed NHS, how do I manage the almost impossible demands of a healthcare system under pressure whilst still managing to be kind, and friendly, and patient-focused? Every single person who needs my help is someone with their own story, and family, and hopes - and how will I make sure I never simply treat the condition and always treat the person?
To me, being a doctor is about being there for patients when they most need us, about being given the time and space to treat them how they deserve, and about allowing us to be dedicated without burning out, but I'm well aware that with the unsustainable pressures facing the NHS, these simple expectations are becoming harder and harder to deliver.
So many doctors are currently working over and above their contracted hours, working punishing schedules and are exhausted every day they get home. Add to that hospitals and GP surgeries bursting at the scenes, a mental health system both hugely understaffed and underfunded and a looming crisis in nursing staffing, and perhaps my nervousness doesn't look so foolish after all. We all desperately want to get it right - but no level of medical training is enough to overcome those kind of hurdles every day of the week.
My first job will be to admit and look after patients who come through their GP or A& E feeling very unwell - patients who are their most vulnerable and most need our care. Care is exactly what I hope I'll be able to give them - treatment, of course, for their illness, but also care, and compassion, and kindness. When my father was cared for through cancer just a few years ago, I saw the very best of NHS care, and also some of the worst. However hard it might be, all of my patients deserve the very best, and those of us committed to the NHS will continue to fight for, and care for, every single patient.
A friend of mine was recently in hospital and wrote on Facebook: "overwhelmed with gratitude for the incredible doctors, nurses, HCAs and everyone else who gave us such speedy, skilful, thorough and compassionate treatment. God bless the NHS".
Amen to that - and I hope one day I might be part of a team which gets it that right. For all the pressures and the struggles, I cannot think of a better job to be starting today.