Dr Jen Warren: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia | Association of Anaesthetists

Dr Jen Warren: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia

Dr Jen Warren: Lost in the ether: missing perspectives within anaesthesia

Dr Jen Warren

Dr Jennifer Warren is an ST7 trainee in anaesthesia and intensive care in the West Midlands. She was born in 1980 in Oxford but the family moved around Europe due to her father's RAF career. Dr Warren did part of her medical training with the British Army and spent some time in Afghanistan. Following a skiing accident in 2008 and subsequent surgery, she has a visible disability and uses a wheelchair. She finds that her disability brings positive as well as negative aspects to her work.

Listen to the audio recording or read the transcription of the interview.


Time code (approximately)
Point of interest
Dr Warren talks about her wanting to be a doctor for as long as she can remember.
Her experience of studying medicine at Manchester University, 1999-2004, joining the Officer Cadets and deciding to be an army doctor, "a fantastic decision and my military life brought me a lot of fun and happiness.”
The ways in which her experience of army training was different to that of her male colleagues, "the military is a very man's world.”
Inclusion and discrimination in medicine with regard to disability, her "Gruffalo analogy".
Explanation of the term "protected characteristics".
Ways in which she finds her disability has made her more confident and a better doctor.
Appointment as Regimental Medical Officer for the 7th Signals Regiment in Germany.
Her decision to become an anaesthetist, the Erasmus Programme which enabled her to do the hospital blocks of her final year in Germany.
Deployment to Afghanistan, working at Bastion, comparisons between the environment there and in Kabul, "I felt a lot more scared up in Kabul.”
Story of her accident whilst on a skiing holiday in Sweden in 2008 after her return from Afghanistan, resulting in a tibial plateau fracture and her return to the UK to undergo surgery
The nerve block procedure that was used before surgery; complications after surgery including severe pain and anaemia.

How chronic pain, caused by damage during nerve block procedure, affected her confidence, mental health and relationship with the medical world.
How the whole experience led to post-traumatic stress disorder, "I don't often tell people the truth… it's not that easy to talk about.”
Fear of being viewed as a victim, how the process of suing the medical profession was not worth the stress.
Returning to work in medicine, "A huge challenge because I've been really harmed by the medical profession.”
The protective attitude of colleagues when she returned to work, trying to convince them that she needed to try and how her military training helped her cope.
Her initially negative feelings about using a wheelchair, and how those feelings changed, "It enabled me to kind of restart my life.”
Taking part in the Lewa Marathon in Kenya which no one had ever done in a wheelchair before, and how that was a real turning point, and designing her own training programme to strengthen her arms.
Negative comments from colleagues and how one comment stayed with her for 10 years.
Working as a disabled person within anaesthesia, the adjustments that need to be made.
Story of another insensitive comment from a colleague.
Experiences of overt discrimination, "Discrimination isn't about being nice or being unkind. It's about attitudes and beliefs that need to be challenged.”
How she deals with discrimination.
Co-chairing the Disabled Doctors Network which was set up in 2018 by a colleague.
How patients respond to her disability, "People really respect you for the fact that you are different.”
Role models, Rob Smith (wheelchair racer) and Mel Nichols (Paralympic athlete).
How her vivid memories of her own surgery and extreme pain enable her to treat patients in a more human way.
Her advice to disabled people considering a career in anaesthesia, "Unfortunately society has driven us away in the past. And it's about time that the tables were turned.”
Dr Warren talks about her sporting activities (wheelchair racing, hand bike racing, swimming, kayaking); the reasons why she enjoys it, "Pain from physical exercise is really nice because it's not neurological pain.”
Her participation in triathlons, the Arch to Arc Challenge, the Invictus Games, paracanoe, "I just find that paddling brings me so much joy"; how she uses her pre-race tactics to mentally prepare for difficult work scenarios.