In The Spotlights – Tracey Gillies

Miss Tracey Gillies, Medical Director, NHS Forth Valley

How did you arrive in your present job?

I trained as a general surgeon and, after I became a consultant, I had the opportunity to get involved in some national improvement work. I then went into medical management which requires a good understanding of how the whole organisation works.

Why did you decide to train as a surgeon?

I decided to become a surgeon in my third year at medical school. I enjoyed the immediacy of the results and team work. Surgery involves learning to assess a situation and then make decisions that you have to stand by. Most surgeons have a plan B though (and sometimes a plan C,D and E!) which is  useful in medical management. I also love the diagnostic challenges of the acute abdomen- it’s a bit like being a detective putting all the clues together.

What makes you laugh – and cry?

I have four children and two cats so there is always a lot of noise and laughter in the house. I do cry quite a lot and find it hard to think about loss. But I have learnt as I get older to accept this and I’m not afraid of showing emotion when talking to patients or families in difficult situations.

Favourite food?

Has to be chocolate.

Bookworm or telly addict?

No question, books every time. I don’t watch any television really. About 25 years ago, I shared a flat with a friend and we didn’t have a television- I lost the habit then and have never really got it back. What is strange is that for major news events, you have fewer visual memories. All my children are big readers too and we are regular visitors to the local charity bookshops at weekends.

Funniest experience?

When I was younger, before I had contact lenses, I was walking home from school one day and a car pulled up and stopped beside me. I presumed it was someone I knew so I hopped in only to discover the driver was a complete stranger who looked rather shocked. Definitely a ‘Should have gone to Specsavers moment!

Worst nightmare

Not having access to mascara.

Holiday of your dreams?

A mixture of some gentle culture , sun and relaxation- so maybe Italy. I also would love to start riding again and do a coast to coast ride – although sadly this is not likely to happen any time soon.

What might people not know about you?

I used to have a semi-photographic memory, but sadly it has faded with time. It was very useful for exams though!

What do you normally do on a Sunday?

I normally go swimming with my 14 year old daughter Anna (she swims around 2 ½ km and I manage to swim about ½ km in the same time) then catch up on some domestic chores and go for a walk if the weather is nice. On a Sunday we try to have a family meal together to catch up on what has been happening and plan for the week ahead.

If you had one wish…..

I would be able to time travel- I would love to live in other historical periods and experience first-hand things I can only read about.