Meet a woman at the cutting edge of critical care

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For International Women’s Day 2019, Magpas Air Ambulance Doctor Charlotte Haldane, 32, from Cambridge explained why she became a doctor, what drove her to Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine and what it’s like to work for a lifesaving air ambulance charity that cares for the people of Cambridgeshire and beyond.

Charlotte says, “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, ever since I was a child. I got a plastic stethoscope set for my 4th birthday and never looked back!

“I first heard of Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine (PHEM) when I was a medical student. I’ve always been a very active, adventurous person and when I realised there was a specialty where I could be right at the cutting edge of critical care, and working in unusual environments outside the hospital, I had to get involved.”

Charlotte worked extremely hard to get into this field. After over 10 years of training, placements, exams and experience, her hard work paid off and she became Magpas Air Ambulance’s first full-time doctor and now brings hospital level care to seriously ill and injured patients at the scene of their incidents, when time is of the essence.

Discussing women in PHEM, Charlotte explains “There are plenty of female doctors in medicine although far fewer in the Acute Specialties such as Pre-Hospital Care and I think it’s important to ask why. Often for women who are trying to juggle young families and complete their Acute training, this is a hurdle too far and more needs to be done to support women during this process. However, being female has never been a barrier to anything for me. I was brought up in a family where gender did not matter and I was told from a very young age that I could do anything I wanted to do, providing I was willing to put the effort in to achieve those goals. I still believe this to be true.”

Charlotte continues, “The work Magpas Air Ambulance do is very special. We’re called to people in their very worst moments, when they are at their sickest and really need our help.

“We know that if we’re there, with the opportunity and the privilege to provide a patient with advanced care, then we are giving them the best possible chance they could have. We use all of our specialist knowledge and skills to try to make a difference and to help them – and when we do, it is truly amazing.

“Doing this job changes your perspective quite a lot. I am reminded regularly how exceptionally fragile life can be. The beauty of a normal day, where everything is just fine, is not something to be underestimated. In general I think we should focus more time and energy on being happy, laughing and being kind. It’s a cliché, but life really is too short.”

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