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Trainee GP and alumnus, James Westwick-Paine, graduated from St George’s in 2010.

He is currently in his first year of training as a specialist registrar in general practice, currently attached to Stroke Medicine at Kent and Canterbury Hospital following a role within an Acute Medical Unit in Ashford.

Since graduating from St George’s, James has received several awards in recognition of his achievements as a Doctor, including Junior Doctor of the Year during his time as an F1 doctor. He was also named Undergraduate Teacher of the Year as well as receiving recognition for Outstanding Leadership from the South Thames Deanery in 2019.  

Speaking of his achievements since graduating, James says, “Being awarded Junior Doctor of the Year was one of my proudest achievements to date, because this award came from a combination of nominations from a panel at my Trust and nominations from staff.”

James now volunteers at his former school, tutoring students applying to Medical School, and says, “I've spoken to all of the students I’ve tutored about why they should apply for St George’s!” Here, he shares his reflections on his time at university, why he chose St George’s and how it prepared him for a career in Medicine.  

First impressions

Reflecting on his first impressions of St George’s, James says, “I wasn't accepted at the other Medical Schools I originally applied for, and being a small, lesser-known university than some of the others, St George’s hadn’t popped up on my radar at first. But when I visited the campus for an Open Day, I loved how friendly and enthusiastic the students were. It was clear that this was a university that didn’t just focus on the Clinician, but on the person as a whole.  

“As a student at St George’s, it really helped being in an environment where everyone was in the same boat. I loved how being a student at a small, specialist health university allowed me to get to know people from a whole range of healthcare disciplines.” 

Support during difficult times

During his time at university, James was also carer for his Mum, who passed away at the start of his F1 Year.

James took an interruption from his studies in his second year at St George’s and says, “The support I received from staff at St George’s really focused on how they could support me to continue, and they really involved me in the process so that we could come to a decision which would work best for me. It was all very geared towards allowing me to spend time with my Mum while helping me to manage my workload.  

“The flexibility of staff, and the support I received through SPACE (Student Parents and Carers Empowered), made such a difference to my experience at university. Taking a break really helped me to complete my studies, and my Mum was so proud to see me qualify as a Doctor.” 

Preparation for the working world

Speaking about how St George’s has prepared him for his current role, he says, “I started my GP training in the midst of our first lockdown, before working within the Respiratory Emergency Department right at the peak of the pandemic."

"Studying at St George’s helped me to immerse myself in a clinical environment so that I felt prepared for what it would feel like before I went into my first role. You are also taught to work under pressure and solve problems from an early stage, which helps prepare you for the unexpected.” 

The skills I've learned

Reflecting on the skills he developed as a student at St George’s, James adds:

“St George’s takes a holistic approach to its teaching and teaches you communication skills which set you up for life."

"The curriculum helps you not just to develop professionally, but also personally and you're really encouraged to make the most of your time there, both in and out of the classroom.”

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