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International Women's Day 2019

08 March 2019

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year and is the focal point in the movement of women’s rights. It is a day to celebrate and commemorate the countless achievements of women all around the globe and talk about what we can do to create a fair and balanced world. It is also a time to acknowledge the fantastic contribution that women make in the workplace despite some areas being traditionally male dominated.

With this in mind it seemed appropriate timing to ask Medical Director Dr Hilary Allan of Woodford Medical about her work, her challenges and how her role has developed as a Doctor as well as an Aesthetic Practitioner in the 30 years since she qualified.

Why did you choose to become a doctor?

I have always been a caring, nurturing sort of person wanting to look after everyone and the fascination of illness and disease and how the body worked meant that a career in medicine would tick both of those boxes. I really never thought of any other pathway to take so decisions along the way re subject choices and exams were straightforward.

What made you decide to diversify in Medical Aesthetics?

I almost stumbled by accident into a career in medical aesthetics. I was very happy with a career in General Practice although needed an added interest to focus on. A patient had suggested being trained in the process of sclerotherapy and this was where my career in aesthetics all started. I liked being hands on with performing treatments and used to undertake as many minor ops as I could in my GP surgery. This I felt was an extension of that. A concern that someone had with how they looked meant I could help them by removing or improving that issue.

What advice did you receive early in your career that has stayed with you?

Best advice I ever received was to remember that each patient was a whole person not just a disease or illness. They all have lives outside of your consulting room with families, friends, occupations and interests. These factors are all intertwined and play a major part in any illness or health issue that someone has.

Do you consider that you face more challenges than a man in your profession and if so, how have you overcome them?

I trained at St Bartholomew’s hospital in London in the early 80s. They were proud of the fact that they had 50% women and 50% men as medical students. Work as a hospital Doctor was no more challenging as a woman; it was busy and pressurised but you operated in a team environment and everyone played their part. I was not a shrinking violet and was always prepared to stand up for myself and what I believed was right.
I received the biggest negative and overtly sexist comment when I left my GP training practice. When I expressed my ambition to become a full time GP partner in a practice the then senior partner told me I would be unlikely ever to achieve this position as I would never be appointed over a man. Needless to say I took no notice and went straight into General Practice as a partner and worked thus for the next 10 years.
So did I have more challenges? No not really; medicine has evolved and sees the need for Doctors of both sexes equally. Is there still discrimination and sexist comments towards women? Yes most definitely. I was asked on more than one occasion "nurse could you get me a bed pan" or "oh you’re a woman" despite the white coat and stethoscope.
 

What challenges do you face in your role as a Medical Director of a very successful business?

In my current role in Aesthetics my gender is an absolute bonus! 80% of my patients are women and they love that I understand exactly how they feel. 

What motivates you to continue to deliver excellence at work?

I feel very strongly that I always want to do the best for my patients in whatever field I am working. Their pleasure and delight at their treatment outcomes and their improved confidence and self-esteem are enough motivation for me.

What advice would you give to someone wishing to start a career in Aesthetics?

I came into Aesthetic medicine later in my career but I have never lost touch with the reason I became a Doctor in the first place. My customers are still my patients that I will strive to look after and help to the best of my ability.

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