Professor Janice Rymer
Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Dean of Student Affairs
Women’s Health & Medical Education
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
I trained in New Zealand where at that time there was not such an emphasis on research, so when I came to the UK I realised that if I was to do well I would need to have a research degree as well as my clinical qualifications.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
I did my thesis on Ovarian Failure and Osteoporosis. So ovarian failure has been my main research theme since. I am also involved both clinically and academically with Female Genital Mutilation. I have always had a major role in Medical Education and this purely evolved from always being an enthusiastic teacher.
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
One of the achievements that I have been very proud of was doing the first randomised trial to show that lay women can teach medical students how to do intimate examinations and it is superior to classical teaching. This was published in the BMJ, is now part of KCL core curriculum and is considered by the RCOG to be the gold standard for the teaching of intimate examinations. Working with these dedicated laywomen has been a privilege.
I have become a national expert on HRT and this is very rewarding to improve the health of postmenopausal women, both by lecturing nationally and internationally and by running a very large clinic at Guy’s that not only provides service to patients but training to many students and doctors. Women have suffered poor care as a result of scaremongery about HRT and some women now will never be able to reap the benefits of HRT because they have been denied HRT by poorly informed health practitioners and the women themselves have been scared off HRT due to the media coverage.
Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?
I was very lucky to have trained under Professor Bonham in Auckland. He was an academic who expected very high standards and his patients were his top priority. He was a fabulous clinician and surgeon and so very much an old style professor. I have tried to be like him. Nowadays many Professors in the craft specialties are not renowned for their clinical acumen which is a great shame.
What if any support has most benefited you in your career?
My small group of female Obstetricians and Gynaecologists who meet every two months and we have been doing this for 20 years. We can discuss all our problems freely and give each other good advice!
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
Being able to combine clinical, research and teaching activities all together.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
It is extremely challenging, and I also have to deal with the KCL/NHS conflict.
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
I don’t need much sleep and having trained in the days when we did 100 hours a week of clinical medicine as a trainee, we always made sure we had some fun in our precious hours away from the hospital.
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
Have the common sense and efficiency gene! You also need to work really hard if you want to get to the top. There is no easy way. Punctuality is also a major key to success.