After some recent events being stuck in the middle of nowhere and having to ask for a lift from a colleague in the middle of a rainy day, I started to seriously consider if I should get a car for my daily travels.
I have moved to the UK for university studies, and as of the time of posting this, I have been in this country for just over 6 years. 2 of those were during my pre-clinical years, where I could get by with living close to university campus and walking +/- some commuting on the rare occasion where we get sent out on hospital visits. During my clinical years were slightly trickier, while we have a base hospital where you could live close to and commute to nearby district general hospitals where needed. For the most part, it is still manageable given that you travel mostly during office hours of 9am-5pm. Additionally, we had placements in small groups where we could car pool since timetables are largely similar.
During this past year where I started foundation training, I adopted a similar strategy. I chose to live within walking distance to the hospital. It was a somewhat small town but close friends live within commutable distance so we can easily visit each other on off days. I strategically selected a track where all placements (aside from GP) were based in the same hospital site. The clinics were in a separate location but equally walkable from where I live. This has served well even for nights and twilight shifts as I don't even need to rely on public transport which may stop running late into the night.
Some of the main benefits of walking to work:
I can literally roll out of bed 30 minutes before work and have reasonable time to wash up and have a quick breakfast. This means more time for sleep/personal work.
Saves cost of commuting or car fuel/car parking.
Get a decent amount of walking into my daily routine, which is much needed for my otherwise largely sedentary lifestyle.
If I needed to, I can walk into hospital quickly for things that requires me to be on site - for example, to do data collection for audits.
Some points on why I may think about getting a car:
Over-reliance on public transport to get anywhere. Having been only one week into my GP placement where I had to commute, I already feel like I have wasted much time due to irregular bus times. This is perhaps more of a problem in smaller towns whereas cities have the likes of trams/tubes which are often more reliable.
Time saved vs commuting. I think this is self-explanatory, commuting is often obsolete if you drive. With the exception being in heavy road traffic and in comparison with trains.
Being able to live in a central and more lively area and then drive to your work location. I think this will be particularly relevant as I head into specialty training. Tracks in most specialties (aside from only GP I believe) rotate you across different hospital trusts every 4-6 months. I can only imagine the hassle of moving so frequently if I were to insist on living within walking distance to my workplace.
I have always thought commuting to be a possible middle ground but again it is unreliable. I like the option of being able to work on commutes VS having to focus on the road while driving. However, more often than not I find myself just resting since I get dizzy if I attempt to do work on buses/trains.
Overall, I feel that I would probably need to get a car by the time I start specialty training. I am used to driving as I have a license in my home country, so it will just be a matter of getting through the tests and then buying a car. Hopefully I can get these done by then.
Share below if you own a car, or if you choose to commute/walk to work!