Nabil Hussein

Graduated in 2014

How did you get into medicine?

Medicine was always a career path that was of interest to me growing up. However, I only made a concrete decision once I was well into my first year of sixth form, following lots of volunteering experience and shadowing in a clinical environment. It was paramount for me to choose a career that fitted with my personality and medicine was the perfect fit. I then went through the conventional pathway of applying through UCAS in my final year of sixth form and fortunately was offered a place at Keele following an interview in early 2009. The rest has been a great journey!

How did the course at Keele prepare you for life as a junior doctor?

Keele prepared me perfectly for life as a junior doctor. From day one we were encouraged to think critically as clinicians evaluating situations and responding accordingly. At Keele there is a strong emphasis on communication and the doctor-patient relationship, which is a key skill to develop as a trainee doctor and has helped me tremendously throughout my career. The early exposure to clinical medicine at Keele made the transition to doctor seamless. I was exposed to a wide range of specialities and was equipped with the mentorship and guidance to be in an excellent position to enter a highly competitive training job in cardiothoracic surgery at the first opportunity.

How did you decide what to specialise in?

It wasn’t until my clinical years at Keele that I really started to find specialities that were of interest to me. I approached these years with an open mind, gradually getting an excellent exposure to all specialities. I developed an interest in surgery and thoroughly enjoyed my paediatric placements. I still keep in contact with my supervisors today! It wasn’t until my fourth-year student-selected component in cardiothoracic surgery that I really got the bug for the speciality.

What have you done since you graduated?

Following my time at Keele I spent my foundation years in Leicester, where I gained a great range of experience from psychiatry to congenital heart surgery. All the skills I gained during medical school and foundation have been transferable to my role today as a cardiothoracic surgery registrar. After foundation I succeeded in getting a place on a run-through training programme in cardiothoracic surgery. I have just spent the last two years in Toronto, Canada researching the use of 3D-printed heart models to train surgeons in complex congenital heart surgeons across the world. This work has also involved teaching medical students complex congenital heart morphology, and incorporating them as surgical assistants in simulation to increase their exposure in this niche field. Now back in the UK, I plan to complete my training and continue implementing novel simulation techniques to augment the training of the next generation of medical students/doctors in congenital heart surgery.

What does your job involve? What is a typical day like?

As a cardiothoracic surgery trainee I rotate around hospitals in Yorkshire, where I gain experience and training in the speciality. Currently I am on my congenital cardiac surgery rotation. This job involves operating on and managing children and adults with congenital heart disease. A day can start with assisting with an operation on a heart the size of a small acorn and end with operating on a 100kg adult ravaged with infective endocarditis. Cardiothoracic surgery is a technically demanding speciality but certainly one with an incredible job satisfaction. Every day is a new challenge, there is always more to learn, and it is the perfect fit for me. My time at Keele prepared me perfectly for this life.

Nabil Hussein, Keele University School of Medicine alumni, with computer and heart models

Toronto, Canada, where I spent the last two years researching
the use of 3D-printed heart models to train surgeons