My journey to medicine

Written by
Dr Shamarah Mathurin-Charles

13 Apr 2022

13 Apr 2022 • by Dr Shamarah Mathurin-Charles

Born and raised in South-East London, to a single parent family, working class, second generation Black British Caribbean, female, and state-school educated, that’s me - I wasn’t supposed to be a doctor! But when my mum got ill with cancer, and I started spending a lot of time at Guy’s Hospital, I started to see and understand the impact that clinicians have on the lives of patients and their families, and thought, “yeah, that could be me.”

My school had never sent anyone to medical school before and resources were thin at the time. I didn’t get into medicine first time round, and I was devastated. Thankfully, I was able to study Biomedical Sciences, and took that time to really understand what medicine and becoming a doctor would mean to me. I worked in hospitals as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA), undertook work experience at a variety of GP practices, learned to recognise my study patterns and how best to excel academically - and then applied as a graduate-entry student.

Success! In 2015, I started at King’s College London, in the grounds of Guy’s Hospital, where I first knew I wanted to be a doctor. It was surreal. I continued working as an HCA in general practice, learning more of its intricacies, as well as increasing my clinical knowledge and skills from the massive variety of conditions I assisted with. I also got involved with clubs and societies, including the GP Society and more widely, the RCGP. This has allowed me to fully immerse myself with general practice and the things I am most passionate about, including increasing student and junior doctor knowledge and engagement with general practice and how fulfilling a career it can be. Widening participation is also a huge passion of mine and I have been able to get more involved through the RCGP. More recently, I have worked with the RCGP 'BAME Task Force' - understanding more of what it means to be a Black GP and how improvements to attitudes and actions towards Black GPs can be beneficial to all.

In 2020, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, I (a bit faster than anticipated) became a doctor. As a Foundation Year 1 (FY1) doctor, I worked at King’s College Hospital, the hospital where I was born, serving the population that raised me and made me who I am.

Working class, second generation Black British Caribbean, female, and state-school educated.

I wasn’t supposed to be a doctor. But here I am.

About the writer

Dr Shamarah Mathurin-Charles an FY1 doctor in Kent. She worked with the RCGP 'BAME Task Force' to understand more of what it means to be a Black GP.