Meet The Crew: Katja Ruecker
4 September 2018
This month we caught up with one of our new Pre-hospital Care Doctors, Katja Ruecker. Katja is from Germany and will be spending a year with the Charity. She comes from a background of pre-hospital care and is also a trained Anaesthetist.
What is your role at EHAAT?
I am a Pre-Hospital Care Doctor. I’ve been with EHAAT for two months so far. I completed my sign off period at the end of July. It was very challenging! The first month was very full on having to learn all the kit we carry and read all the standard operation procedures whilst still attending missions in between. I had no life outside of work! The sign off day went well and made me realise that all the hard work was worth it. I absolutely love this job!
Tell us about your career to date…
I came from Germany, last year in August, that is where my training and career has been. I decided I needed a change so I applied for a job in London at St George’s Hospital. I spent nine months there focusing on critical care medicine. If I’m honest, I got a bit bored as I missed the pre-hospital environment as I had done this for six years previously in Germany. In Germany, HEMS is not funded by charities. It is financed by the statutory health insurance. The community take HEMS for granted and some people don’t really appreciate this life-saving service. I really missed the pre-hospital environment when I came here, so whenever I had a few days off work, I booked some shifts in Germany and flew back to do them. Everyone told me it was really difficult to get a pre-hospital care job in the UK, especially in Greater London. But a Doctor I was working with at St George’s noticed EHAAT were recruiting, so I applied and here I am!
What do you do outside of work?
I used to live in Clapham Common as it was near to St George’s Hospital. But after two weeks of commuting here, I decided I needed to move as it was taking too much of my free time away. I had to travel through London and was spending up to six hours a day travelling. When I finally got home after each shift, I was too tired to do anything or socialise. So now I live in North East London, which makes it around an hour each way if I’m working at Earls Colne and less if I’m working out of North Weald. When I’m not in work, I do some sports and try to see as much of my friends as possible. If I have a few days off in a row, I will fly back to Germany to see my son and parents.
What do you enjoy about your role? Do you face any challenges?
I enjoy working in a team and the support that comes from them. You can always call someone if you have an issue and they are always really nice and helpful.
The support is really good – I’ve never worked with such a strong team. Everyone works really well together.”
In regards to pre-hospital care, I have done most of it before. However, we don’t do Thorocotomy’s (surgical incision into the chest wall). I did my first here – it was such an adrenaline rush! The triage of patients is sometimes challenging when you are trying to convince a hospital why they need to take them in. We have to alert the hospital that we are coming, straight after we have done an assessment of their injuries and made a decision for the most suitable hospital. Usually they are fine, but sometimes it can be challenging.
Have you got any stand out missions so far?
I’ve had a few. I had some follow up phone calls after a particularly difficult shift, just to check if I was okay. Even though the incidents were tough, it was a good from a learning point of view.
You are currently our only female Doctor, how do you feel about that?
It’s good (she laughs). I think there is possibly slightly more support for a female in this role. However, I think it is slightly more difficult to be a female and get into HEMS. There is nothing stopping women applying, but I know a few who are nervous to. I definitely think more males apply but I’m not really sure.
Whats next in your career?
I really don’t know. I keep asking myself what I want to do. I don’t want to go back to Germany, I would like to stay. Potentially I will go back into critical care medicine or to Anesthetics, but I haven’t decided yet. It all depends on what jobs are available at the time.