Life After Lucy – Rachael Brock (2011, Medicine)

Rachael is currently National Head of Cancer Registration for Public Heath England [Dr Rachael Brock]

Alumna Rachael BrockI graduated from Lucy Cavendish in 2011.  Prior to studying medicine, I had enjoyed a career in business working for a variety of companies ranging from a small management consultancy to Nokia, the then-mobile phone giant.

After completing my Foundation training in hospitals around Cambridge, I was awarded a National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellowship at NHS England, working with Professor Keith Willett on Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of urgent and emergency care in England.  Much of my work at NHS England focused on the use of large datasets to understand healthcare demand and delivery, and drive system-wide change. I also co-authored 'Understanding the new NHS', a guide commissioned by Sir Bruce, published by the British Medical Journal and widely disseminated to trainee healthcare professionals and NHS managers

Initially, I planned to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine and entered specialist training in 2014.  My time working in Accident and Emergency was physically and mentally demanding.  Busy shifts lasted 10 hours and I was working three in every four weekends.  I enjoyed the clinical work, but the pressures of the job made reflective practice a rare luxury and it was frustrating to see that this problem was systemic.  It was also evident that the pattern of this work poses particular problems for mature trainees with families.

Against this backdrop, I realised that I missed the opportunities provided during my fellowship year, when I was involved in the interface between management and clinical care.  Therefore, the following year I changed tack to pursue a career in Public Health.  In 2016 I was appointed National Head of Cancer Registration for Public Heath England.

In my new role, I work with NHS clinicians, commissioners, data analysts, IT developers, registration officers and private healthcare providers to capture, analyse and report on every tumour diagnosis in England.  Our data is used by clinicians, researchers and commissioners to provide vital intelligence about cancer in England and the effectiveness of the treatment and care we give our patients.  I’m thrilled that I’m now able to make use of both my business and clinical knowledge to address health issues at a population level.

My links to Lucy Cavendish continue and I enjoy teaching medical students at the Clinical School.  In 2015 I married my wife, a surgical registrar, and we held our wedding reception in College.  Just as Lucy Cavendish values and celebrates the varied backgrounds of its students, my experiences after medical school have demonstrated that it is possible to build a successful medical career creatively, outside the bounds of traditional clinical training pathways.  I feel fulfilled by making use of the full range of my previous experiences in my current career.