Dr Gyles Morrison is a medical doctor who is now involved in improving NHS IT systems. Outside of his work as a Clinical Analyst, he runs a non-for-profit social enterprise “Say It Loud”, which includes Urban Youth Orchestra. Dr Morrison uses his skills and hobbies in music and art to help young people keep away from crime while igniting their passion and creativity through music.
1. Hi Gyles, thank you for your time to talk to Other Options for Doctors about your unconventional career path. What did you use to do and what is your new role now?
I worked as a Junior doctor for 3 years in Yorkshire, and now I work as a Clinical Analyst. Others in IT would recognise me as a clinical Business Analyst with specialist skills in user experience. So during working hours 8:30-16:30 I’m working on gathering requirements to turn paper forms in to digital forms from staff. I then turn those requirements into interactive prototypes to simulate the way forms will work in our system.
2. What was it like to move from clinical medicine into IT?
It was a little daunting, as I didn’t know how much IT skills I would need. I don’t really write much code, but I know my way around the Microsoft Office Suite and I’m very experienced with graphic design software. In the end, very little of my existing skills were needed in the beginning, as I had to learn to use a completely new system, and virtually all my colleagues had to learn the same way as I did. However, my medical background gave be a lot of credibility when working with doctors and nurses who want new forms built on our Electronic Health Record System.
3. How did people react to you stepping out of formal medical training?
Most doctors don’t understand how or why I would do it, mainly because they didn’t know that there was even the option to do IT without having IT qualifications. Many still do believe I am ruining my career, and wasting my knowledge and skills.
4. Did you have any role models or mentors?
Sadly none. And until things change, this will be very common. But if anyone reading this wants a mentor to breakout in to IT, even if it is not Healthcare related, I’m more than willing to offer my time.
5. How do you use your medical background in your current role?
Quite often, but in the first instance, its used as a wonderful ice breaker and to be gain rapport with service users since they know I understand the problems they face. When I’m designing a form, I need to think about how using a computer when a piece of paper would normally be used will impact staff workflow. Since I’ve worked as a doctor for so long, I already have a very valid and reliable idea, but always test it with staff on the front line to be on the safe side.
6. You run a social enterprise “Say It Loud”. What motivated you to start it and how has it evolved since 2009?
I took a year out after 3rd year of Med school and during that time I set up Say It Loud (SIL). I was very fortunate to get free violin lessons when I was younger, which was particularly important since my mother couldn’t afford to give me private lessons. Therefore I wanted to help children and young people do something creative in and around Tower Hamlets where cost was not a barrier. The younger generation will become the older generation one day, and my colleagues and I believe we must nurture their creative talent rather than have it wasted. I believe creativity is one of the essential elements of life, along with love and food.
7. What is your longer-term vision for “Say It Loud”?
I was inspired by the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra when I created the Say It Loud Urban Youth Orchestra. We are definitely not as big as our South American friend’s group, but at its core is the same idea; arm young people with musical instruments, ignite their passion and create wonderful music. I would hope that our orchestra will grow and tour nationally and internationally.
8. What does your typical week look like? Would you say you’ve achieved “work-life” balance?
I work Monday to Friday. But then once work is done, I am free to do something exciting and/or creative; go see a musical, rehearse for a part in a musical, go to an open mic night, compose some music, cook a four course dinner, and so on. I finally went on a 2 week holiday to Thailand. I never went on holiday for more than 1 week as a doctor, and never even left the country! So I think I’m much closer to achieving work life balance now, could always do with a little more life and a little less work though…
9. How likely are you to be going back to clinical practice?
I think it’s unlikely. I have the right to, and the skills. But I can do more in my role for healthcare then I could as a doctor, and I feel more fulfilled too.
10. Looking back at your career so far, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
Learn to write code. If I learned to write code I would be able to do more in my current role than I already do. Other than that, I would definitely tell the young me to do everything he still wants to do with life, as I think I’ve turned out very well despite all the stresses and strains life sends you.
11. What would be your top tips for medics who would like a fulfilling career (in or out of medicine)?
Do what makes you happiest.
Everything we do in life revolves around doing what makes us happiest. You’re in the cinema watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster but dying for a wee, yet some of us will hold it in. Why? Some value the film more, some value their bladder more.
We decide how much we are willing to endure before we can’t anymore. Being happy involves setting the bar of what you are willing to put up with and what you are willing to sacrifice, and living in between.
12. Many thanks for your time, Gyles!