I sat down with Dr Grace Hammond at the Breakfast Club in Shoreditch, London, on a sunny but cold Sunday. Before we got into the interview she spoke about her recent trip abroad – the revelation of 2015, doctors know how to have fun!
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a doctor until the sixth form. I was pretty good at everything; math was the only subject I didn’t like; I’m not a big fan of numbers. The only reason I narrowed down my subjects for A-levels is that I had to; not because I wanted to. I found medicine enticing so then decided to pursue studying it.”
“I remember coming home one day after school and telling my parents that I think I’m going to study medicine. My Dad was surprised and curious to find out what had led me to this decision. They gave me the freedom to choose what I like within reason. I remember telling my Dad I liked P.E but spirit led me towards science.” {Laughs}
“Some people think that parents push their children down the medical route, but it wasn’t like that for me. My parents were very open and free and let me choose my subjects.”
With some Bob Marley playing in the background, our conversation started to flow even more. Thank you, Uncle Bob.
“It took me seven years, 2 degrees – Nutrition BSc(Hons) and MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) and a lot of hard work to get where I am today. It was hard but once you set your mind to something I guess you just go through it. I had to retake an exam in my first year, which was one of the hardest years of my education. Even though you pay your tuition fees, the government spends large amounts towards your training, so you have to show you have what it takes for them to continue investing money in you.”
“While all of my friends were out partying, I spent that summer studying. I was cramming my brain with medical books so I could pass my exams. It was really difficult, but I had no choice; by that time I was set on becoming a doctor – failure was not an option. I figured out that I studied better in the morning, so I went to the library early each morning and I created a study plan, which helped me to focus and use my time efficiently which benefited me for my remaining years of study.”
“I found out I was dyslexic at the age of 24. I was told that I compensate well for it – I discovered that I read things twice as fast which I never realised I was doing until I went for my assessment.” 
I was amazed by this, she went through so many years of education, and it was not picked up until she was 24 – it just proves if you believe strongly in something and work hard, you’ll be able to achieve what you set out to do
 “I genuinely like to help people, and before I could even study medicine, I had to take out voluntary work to show I had a genuine interest in helping others. Being a doctor can be very challenging, but it is made easier if you enjoy helping people. There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with the job, especially knowing it’s your responsibility to make people feel better so they can live a more fulfilling life, which is rewarding in itself but also adds pressure.”
Talking to Dr Grace Hammond had me thinking – with everything you do there are sacrifices; some are bigger than others. I don’t know about you, but I can take time for granted at times, when I should be utilising it better. Being a doctor requires her to work nights which means missing out on some important gatherings and occasions she would love to go to but is unable to (like her good friend‘s baby shower). This made me appreciate the efforts of others who sacrifice their time to help others they don’t personally know.
“After attaining a medical degree you have to do two years of foundation training – so you have to work in different fields, which can be an excellent experience as you get to figure out what field you would like to work in. I’m working towards to becoming a GP, being a woman I would love to have children and still continue to progress in my career as a doctor. Being a GP you work fewer nights and weekends, which is perfect for a woman like me who is looking to raise a family and be a prominent figure in my future children’s lives.”
She talked about some of the scenarios she has had to face; I will save you from all the details. Interviewing a doctor after eating a meal is a bad idea, especially if you don’t like to hear about open wounds, loads of blood, intestines hanging out and putting tubes down patients’ throats.
“One thing I learned about being a doctor is that this job can be viewed as an extension of who you are as a person.”
A singer and a guitarist were gearing up for their live performance, which was a perfect way to end our conversation, chill out, and vibes to some live music.

Subject – Dr Grace Hammond

Photographer & Writer – Kofi Dwaah