Jonathan Rees, Professor near end of career

Prof Rees loves his work, but it wasn’t always that way

Tell us about your experience of getting into medicine

I went to two state schools. One terrific one in Cardiff run by Christian Brothers — I never lost a game of rugby on Welsh soil! — and then at 15, to a >2200 pupil school in the North of England which I hated, where discipline was awful and bullying rife. I had lots of home support to ‘do well’ and fortunately all I had to do, was get good A levels, and I didn’t have to do any of the extracurricular activities that seem common now. No med school interview either. My extracurricular activities were smoking, playing in a rock band, and other things I shouldn’t mention.

What is being a doctor (or med student) like?

I was a miserable medical student for the first two years. More me than the medical school, I suspect. Then a couple of staff took at an interest in me, invited me to their houses, and encouraged and supported me. I owe an enormous debt to the then intercalated Newcastle degree: class size n=12. Life changing.
What has been good? I have loved research, teaching and *some* clinical practice. I have worked and lived in four European countries, met people from all over the world, and still have enormous autonomy over what I do day to day. I never know whether I am working or just doing what I think is fun. Life/ work balance is an anathema for me. But then I am fortunate: dermatologists don’t get up in the night.