Dr Miriam Isaac's story for NHS75

As the NHS reaches a momentous milestone of 75 years, this is an occasion to celebrate the dedicated staff and volunteers who have shaped the NHS into what it is today.

In the lead up to the NHS’s birthday on 5 July, LYPFT staff are telling their stories of inspiration and dedication that led them to join the NHS and what motivates them to continue their important work. 

Dr Miriam Isaac FRCPsych is a Consultant Psychiatrist in the National Deaf Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) based in York.

Having lost a sibling to cancer early on in my life and with lived experience of neurodiversity, an affiliation towards a caring profession seemed natural.

I started my career in medicine in the UK in 2003 at the Maudsley Hospital in London, where I was inducted by some of the leading voices in psychiatry. It was there that my curiosity of the interface between brain and behaviours was ignited and I eventually chose psychiatry as a career, over that of being a surgeon. It was a keen sense of justice, parity and equity, compassionate care, collaboration with inspirational people, and the desire to be part of a collective effort to reduce human suffering and stigma, that attracted me to the NHS as a place to work.

Over two decades later, I look back at many moments to celebrate, including being elected as Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, but there have been exceptional challenges too.

Working through the devastating events of the London bombings as a senior house officer is an experience I’ll never forget. I was part of a team of front-line clinicians at a central London hospital. We worked in extremely challenging circumstances but witnessed so many selfless acts of compassion, and experienced personal and professional growth and resilience that would help immensely when later responding to the Covid pandemic.

Through the most challenging of times, there are so many things that have kept me going – the shared vision of wanting to do our best, the gratitude of those in our care, the desire to break stereotypes, the kindness of colleagues, and the good will within the NHS are just a few! I am motivated by my personal commitments to empower people and improve care for girls and women with high functioning Autism and improve the visibility of women of colour. I could also not be without the encouragement and support of my family and mentors, and my steadfast faith.

Being in a compassionate career is not always easy, but we get the chance every day to positively impact people’s lives.

The NHS puts people at the heart of every decision and I find it exciting that I am able to help shape an NHS for the future that has equity and parity at its core.

I would urge others who are thinking of joining the NHS to develop a curious mind, collaborate, listen to understand, and to remember the importance of co-creation and what we can learn from those who receive our care.