Alumnus of the Month
Eric Stephenson is our Westminster City School Alumnus of the Month. Eric left Westminster City School in 2003. He is now a Doctor.
Please tell us a little about yourself – where do you work and how did you get to this role?
I am currently working as a general practitioner in South East London. I left hospital medicine just before the pandemic started.
I spent seven years in medical school and was fortunate to leave with two degrees. After completing undergraduate training you undertake a formal two years of “foundation" training which can be at any hospital in the UK. After this, generally speaking, you have some idea on your chosen speciality, although I was not entirely sure, so I spent the next two years in a variety of hospital jobs including mental health, surgery and A&E. After this point I then decided to enter GP training and the rest is history.
What are some of your proudest achievements since leaving Westminster City School?
Completion of medical school was an achievement in itself. When I completed my secondary education I decided to leave Westminster City School and study A Levels at a local college. This wasn’t the best choice for me and I ended up returning to Westminster City School's Sixth Form the following year. At that time, I was a year behind my peers and I felt it was an uphill struggle with added pressure to perform. However, I was fortunate to have a wonderful Head of Sixth Form who was more than understanding of where I had been, and provided constant encouragement to help me fulfil the potential that I could not even recognise when I was younger.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path?
Medicine is not an easy career choice as it does come with its own challenges and difficulties worth overcoming. Nevertheless, these thoughts should not detract you from wanting to undertake a career where the care and support you provide to those in need is tangible. It is a thankless job most of the time but knowing that you are contributing to the promotion of health to the general population is quite a nice reward.
I think if you have an early thought that medicine is the career choice for you then the next step is to obtain as much experience as possible. When applying for medicine the deadline was earlier than others and so if you can explore places such as GP surgeries, hospices and even familiarise yourself with the university curriculum, then you will have a better idea about making the correct decision for your future.
How have your experiences at Westminster City School contributed to your life and successes since leaving school?
Some of my closest friends are individuals I met during my time at Westminster City School. The experiences we shared together are invaluable and I would like to think we were moulded into functioning contributors to society.
Returning to the Sixth Form and exceeding expectations gave me the resilience to push through tough times at medical school and at work.
Can you describe one of your fondest memories from your time at Westminster City School?
Form time with Mr Phillips was always hilarious which made it a lovely way to start the school day.
I am looking for an area in medicine to have a specialist interest in. I have some ideas about educational roles which I am also looking to explore. For me, the importance now is finding a suitable work life balance because ultimately we all need to have a degree of self care and happiness which may not be readily available when you start a job.