This month's OB of the Month is JP Carpenter (Ha. 1984-89). JP is currently the Clinical Lead for Cardiology at Poole Hospital, specialising in cardiovascular imaging.
When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
I had precious little idea about what I wanted to do. Pilot, doctor, civil engineer, lawyer, architect? I certainly didn’t know what it all meant at the age of 18. The current College pupils are so lucky to have such good careers advice and the opportunity to network at the Professions Conference.
What are you now that you've grown up?
I’m a cardiologist, specialising in cardiovascular imaging.
What is your best memory of school?
Looking back, it’s the friendships made, the amount of stuff we managed to cram into each day and the amount we learned. Now I’m almost 50, it takes me much longer and much more effort to learn something new, whether that’s a language or something more mundane.
What was the best piece of advice you were given?
This came from RSM Chris O’Connell and has stayed with me ever since. I’m sure he told every single person passing through the CCF that we were all ‘unique’ and had the opportunity to make the most of it (or not…). The advice was to believe in yourself, to have the spark just to go out and achieve what you wanted, not to worry about what other people thought, to live your own life and above all, to be honest to who you were. I wish I had listened more attentively!
What do you do as a career?
After a year working in a school, I went to London to study medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals. I met a great group of friends and have stayed friends with them ever since. After a stint in New Zealand, I worked in many different places in the UK during my training, predominantly in the Wessex region and London. I then spent three years doing a postgraduate research degree at Imperial College, London and the Royal Brompton Hospital winning the overall Thesis Prize before taking up a consultant post at the Brompton. I moved to Poole in 2013 and am now Head of Department.
What does your job involve?
My job is very varied, involving working on the ‘front line’ seeing patients as they come through the door, making quick decisions and getting them through the system as quickly and safely as possible. I run clinics in two different hospitals and implant devices (such as pacemakers) as well as performing and reporting advanced cardiovascular imaging investigations (such as echocardiograms, cardiac CT and cardiovascular MRI). We use the latest technology including artificial intelligence to help us scan and report – this is fascinating and there’s lots of physics in the background which means I interact with some very clever people who know MatLab inside out. I run multidisciplinary meetings to discuss challenging cases, organise ‘Schwartz’ Rounds and manage a whole team of people. The remit is changing constantly which keeps me on my toes.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
If you had asked me this question a couple of months ago, I would have said that the most challenging aspect has been to enact change management in the process of bringing two organisations together in a merger of two Hospital Trusts and two cardiology departments. The COVID-19 pandemic threw this all out of the window – it was a real eye-opener as to how so much change could be achieved in the space of a couple of weeks when there is a real pressing need and everyone is focused in the same direction. The big challenge now is to ‘reset’ everything, not only to catch up with the backlog of all of the appointments and investigations we had to cancel but how to fit everything around the ‘new normal’. Technology, in particular Microsoft Teams, has played a large part in this and I’ve now found myself orchestrating Live Event broadcasts across our two organisations. This has been a time of great opportunity.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
I am most proud of my commitment to education. I am heavily involved in training in cardiology at a local and regional level as well as being Exam Board Chair for Europe in cardiovascular imaging (MRI). I am also Vice-Chair for Certification for the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging. I have been fortunate enough to be invited as a Faculty member to give talks across the world, travelling to many parts of Europe as well as Asia, Australasia and North and South America.
What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
Getting rid of email. I still haven’t worked out the best way to deal with it…
What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
My number one item would be a ‘Hauptwerk’ organ console. A real instrument wouldn’t manage the heat and humidity but I’ve always wanted to be able to play J.S. Bach’s Fugue in G major “A la Gigue” BWV 577. I’d have time to learn it and to work out how to make both hands and both feet do different things at the same time. My second item would be a magnesium flint fire starter – as I don’t want to struggle to light a fire. It’s a bit of a cheat but I’d also take the ‘Duolingo’ App as I love learning different languages.
How would you like to be remembered?
It would be good just to be remembered, better to be remembered as someone who has made a difference and for the good memories left behind.