Senior Clinical Champion
I’m Caroline Walker and I work at MKUH as a Consultant in Anaesthetics and Intensive Care Medicine. I am also the Clinical Champion for the Veteran Aware Project for the trust.
My involvement with the Armed Forces began back in 2002 when I became interested in joining the Army Reserve (then the Territorial Army) as I was finishing my medical school training. During my time at university, I had always been involved with many clubs and organisations and I started to look for something to ‘outside of work’ to do moving forwards. I didn’t have any direct links to the military but always respected the dedication and sacrifice made by the members of our military community and their families.
I joined 256 (City of London) Field Hospital (V) in 2003, commissioned as a Medical Officer and completed my Entry Officer training. I then spent several years juggling my medical training with exams and job moves, and my commitment to the Army Reserves. The first few years of this were challenging, but as I gained in experience both as a NHS and military doctor found huge value in how the skills I learnt in the military transferred to my NHS role.
Through leadership roles in the Army Reserves I developed experience in organising interprofessional clinical training programmes, appraisal and career management, alongside event organisation which prepared me well to start a career as a NHS Consultant. I also had amazing opportunities to undertake military and adventurous training such as skiing, kayaking and hill walking. This not only develops resilience and physical fitness but is an excellent distraction from the pressures of working in the NHS.
In 2009, I had the privilege of deploying as an Anaesthetic Registrar on Operation HERRICK 11A to the British Military Hospital in Afghanistan. This was a busy and clinically challenging operational tour. In addition to the clinical knowledge and skills I learnt, the team working, non-technical and human factors skills I developed from being part of a close-knit, high-functioning team have stayed with me throughout my subsequent career and has driven my ongoing interest in simulation training and human factors which form part of my current Consultant role at MKUH.
Unfortunately, by 2015, with two small children, being married to a Regular Army Emergency Medicine Consultant and working as full-time Consultant at MKUH, I found that I could no longer offer the time and dedication that I felt a role in the Army Reserves deserved so sadly stood back from this. Being a service spouse certainly brings a different set of challenges and responsibilities, but feel that both my closer colleagues and MKUH as a trust are understanding and supportive of this.
My husband works in a role where he is required to deploy at very short notice and my colleagues have always been extremely helpful with accommodating any rota changes. I believe that should I need to request a change in my working pattern to support my family, this would be looked upon favourably. I have had no difficulty in getting leave to spend time with my family either before or after my husband’s deployments.
More recently I am also really proud to feel that through the Armed Forces Network in the trust, there is now a group of individuals with different NHS roles and backgrounds to myself, but with a common understanding of life in the Armed Forces. I know the members of this can be relied upon to provide mutual support, practical help, or simply a cup of coffee and friendly ear!
Last Modified: 1:44pm 31/03/2023