Deciding on a career in science
Video clip: At first Jenny thought she was going to be a GP, but having learnt about epidemiology during her degree this was what she decided she wanted to do.
So what my ambition at school was to do was be a doctor. And so as a consequence I needed to make choices very early on at school at a ridiculously early stage in terms of what O-levels and A-levels I took. And so I think my career in medicine was pretty fixed from a very early age and I think I’m talking about 13 here.
So I took the right A, O-levels and then A-levels and applied to medical school in the full expectation that I would become a general practitioner.
That was what my ambition was when I went to medical school. And it was really in the first two years of the course because I went to what was then one of the new medical schools in the 1970’s, not so new now. But and we had unusually one day a week of the four and half days a week teaching, doing a course which, you’ll shudder at the name now, but it was called Man in Society. But it was essentially [laughs] a whole day of teaching dealing with the sort of what, what people would regard as the softer sciences. So public health as we call it now, epidemiology, social sciences, psychology, all around the aspects of medicine that I think we probably now take for granted but were actually quite revolutionary in the 1970’s. And it was the epidemiology course that particularly sparked my interest and as a consequence of that I undertook an intercalated year to spend a year doing research between my second and third year of the five year medical degree.
And in a sense my future career was effectively set at that point because it then became my ambition to become an epidemiologist and the work I did at that stage was to do with women’s health and, and indeed that’s really been my entire career.