The moment Rosie Connell lifts her trombone to her lips, she’s transported away from the intense pressure of her job as a junior doctor on the NHS. It’s a crucial moment of escapism.
“When you’re busy at work, and bad things happen or sad things happen, you’ve always got your bleeps going off, you’ve always got the next job to do – it’s very easy to bottle things up,” Rosie, who is from Poole in Dorset, explains.
“On the drive home you start thinking and reflecting on your day, thinking about the people whose lives you’ve been part of. I think a lot [of emotion] can come out then. But for me, playing the trombone takes me away from all that.”
Rosie’s job as a junior doctor means it’s not uncommon for her to pull 12-hour shifts – sometimes even longer. If a patient becomes unwell or she needs to break bad news, she says it’s her duty to stay. “You can’t just drop what you’re doing and leave,” she says. “So the hours on paper don’t always reflect the hours at work.”
She began training to become a doctor in her thirties and is currently one year into her role as a junior doctor, which can see her carrying out a variety of tasks including caring for the elderly, covering medical admissions, providing cancer services, ploughing through paperwork and attending emergencies. The 39-year-old also lives at home with her parents. “They’re both quite elderly, dad has Parkinson’s disease and he’s blind, and mum is disabled,” she says, adding that this can make life “quite stressful”.
For Rosie, there’s only one way to switch off: through the power of music.
She began playing the trombone when she was 17 but stopped playing when she started nurse training. During this time she didn’t play her trombone for about 10 years – it was only when she went to medical school in her thirties that she picked it up again and the passion was reborn. “I’d forgotten how much I loved it and needed an outlet outside of the day-to-day stuff,” she says. “I class the years in between as my ‘lost years’.”
Rosie is now a member of Bournemouth Concert Brass Band and Westbourne Orchestral Society, both of which she counts as family.
“No matter how tired you are you know that you’ve got a commitment to a rehearsal, a commitment to the other musicians in a brass band or an orchestra,” she says. “And so you have to get in, have a shower and get in your car to rehearsal.
“Once you’re there you escape everything. You’re in the zone of music, you have to concentrate to follow the part, keep in time to play your solos and it becomes about that. After a couple of hours of rehearsing and chatting to people who work in all sorts of jobs, suddenly I’m just a normal human.”
She says music really helps her switch off because there’s simply no room in her brain for other things. In fact she says counting the bars before she has to come in and play her part is almost like a form of meditation.
“If you’re playing something amazing with a wonderful group of musicians, you can get really lost in the moment,” she adds. “It takes you away from everything that’s been going on.”
Rosie appears on ‘Britain’s Best Junior Doctors’ which starts tomorrow [25 June] on BBC Two at 7.30pm