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A unique career path: accounting via medicine

16 January 2020: Marie Kubo, trainee chartered accountant at Saffery Champness, chose to give up a career in medicine in favour of taking the ACA. She tells us why.

Marie KuboI’d always loved the sciences, meeting different people and problem-solving. At the time I really didn’t want to spend my time sitting behind a desk in an office. I didn’t get into medical school the first time and spent a year working as a healthcare assistant on an acute medical unit. It’s the stop after A&E; it’s very busy and some patients are extremely unwell. I came out of it at the age of 18 thinking: "Yes, I’ve got the resilience and strength, I’m thick-skinned."

The NHS is a tough environment. My first job was in psychiatric intensive care in Oxford. I moved to Milton Keynes for my second year and worked in paediatrics over the winter. The pressure had been mounting and when I got a rotation in obstetrics and gynaecology it tipped me over the edge.

I was often told I was too conscientious. I took work home with me – as you mature you realise you need to maintain that distance. I didn’t quite master it. My mission was to finish my foundation training and think of it as leaving the medical profession on a high rather than that I’d failed or was running away.

With accountancy, I felt there were so many skills I could bring to the table: communication, the analytical side of things, the ability to prioritise. I also thought there was more flexibility in working out where my career was taking me, and the ability to find something that would allow me to manage my mental health and have a good work-life balance.

I’m currently working in the business advisory group at Saffery Champness with a mixture of not-for-profits, SMEs and owner-managed businesses. I do some accounts prep and tax work but primarily audit.

As an auditor you’re coming into someone’s work environment and asking challenging questions, so it’s essential to get that rapport quickly and have a good bedside manner. You have to be responsive to cues and clues that might raise concerns. That’s a bit like when you take a history from a patient.

Right now, my focus is qualifying – I’ve got one final exam in July and am pushing forward the mental health agenda in my capacity as an accountant. We’ll see where the road takes me, but I’ve learned that a windy path is also okay.

Not getting into med school taught me that it doesn’t have to be a straight career path. I have no regrets. There may well be other bumps along the way but each thing that has happened is something I’ve learned from and can proudly talk about. I am able to keep perspective.