250 doctors celebrate making the cut at College of Surgeons
SCALING the lofty heights of medicine is a given for the 250 future doctors who donned caps and gowns to graduate from the Royal College of Surgeons – but for one, the aim is even higher.
Neil Naik (24) from Toronto, Canada, hopes to be the doctor on board Elon Musk's planned flight to Mars in 2030 – and is not bothered by the fact that it is likely to be a one-way ticket.
"Medicine was not my first choice – space was," revealed Neil, who has been studying at the RCSI for the last four years.
However, shooting past the necessary height restrictions of 5ft 11ins and not having perfect vision meant a career as an astronaut was off-limits.
But he never abandoned his childhood career aspirations and followed his older sister, Sapna, into medicine because he "didn't want to sit behind a desk".
He now hopes to spend 16 years building up his skills as a doctor in rural Newfoundland to make him the perfect candidate for Musk to select as a medic for the SpaceX mission.
Meanwhile, former actuary Mary Coughlan from Blanchardstown, Dublin, had graduated from RCSI with flying colours despite having a very junior – sometimes unruly – study companion.
Her young son Darragh was born just five months ago in her final year of medicine. "It was a juggling act and it was pretty difficult to study when I was pregnant," Mary said.
She is now working in the medical oncology unit in Beaumont hospital and loves it.
"It's very satisfying," she said. "I was earning a six-figure sum as an actuary but I wanted a different challenge and you just make it work."