“I started medicine at the age of 39, after going through finance”

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Christelle Colin a exercé seize ans dans la finance, avant de se reconvertir en médecine.

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Posted on Feb 25, 2021 2021 at 7:01Updated Feb 25, 2021 2021 at 9:59

“As a teenager, I wanted to study medicine, but I quickly put that idea aside. In medicine, there was the notion of notables, almost elite. I was the daughter of workers, a scholarship holder and I lived in a small village of 2,000 inhabitants in the Vaucluse. I told myself that it was not for me and that it would be long studies and difficult to finance. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school and go to college. It was already great, so I had no regrets putting this project aside.

In 1993, I started a prep maths sup / maths class at the Lycée du Parc, in Lyon. Then, I joined the National Institute of Telecommunications, in Evry-Courcouronnes (now Institut Mines-Telecom Business School). I then worked in finance, in real estate investment, until 2014.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the world of real estate investing changed. Investment funds were more cautious about investing and we came to do more law than investment. My business in finance never really made sense but there was at least the excitement of investing. After 2008, there wasn’t even that anymore. I also felt like I had taken the tour. I had been a financial auditor at Mazars, real estate investment manager for General Electric Real Estate, general manager of the Docks Lyonnais property company… I had also set up my asset management company. I had ended up getting bored. So, in 2013, I decided to reorient myself, without really knowing where to go.

Too old to do medicine?

Throughout my career in finance, medicine has been in the back of my mind. I watched documentaries on health, read books … But at 39, I told myself that it was surely too late to start.

At an event with friends, I met a surgeon. I told him of my doubts. He said to me: “You can find yourself full of excuses, saying that studying medicine is long, difficult, not compatible with an adult life … but not that you are too old!” “. I left this discussion excited at the idea of ​​embarking on this professional project. I finally obtained a conventional break and quit my job in March 2014. Six months later, I discovered the benches of the university, at the University of Paris Diderot (Paris 7).

The first year, ‘a monastic tunnel’

My whole life has changed, I had to review everything, rethink everything. Even things that may seem trivial. Example: when I worked in finance, I went to work in a suit and high heels. There, I wondered what was the appropriate outfit for going to college.

I joined the university alongside students who were graduating from the baccalaureate. Some thought I was an inspector (laughs). I was a little lost but I met two very good friends who supported me. At the beginning of my first year, I did not understand that it was necessary to enter a kind of monastic tunnel. I continued to go on weekends, to have brunches …

When I saw that I was ranked 570 out of 2,100 in the first part of the competition – when you had to be in the first 350 to go to second year – I understood that it was going to take a lot more work and reduce my social interactions. I have no children but my married and friendly life has been greatly impacted by my resumption of studies. Some friends didn’t necessarily understand that I went out less, that I didn’t see anyone during the month before the contest. I didn’t have the same flexibility as before and lost a few friends, but with no regrets.

I told myself that if I didn’t make it in the top 500 in the competition, I would do something else, a shorter, less selective course. Finally, I finished 430th. It wasn’t enough to get into second year, but it was an encouraging progression. So I redoubled. My job paid off and I moved on to second year.

“Nothing is more rewarding than a patient who says thank you”

In 4th year, I started my day school. Since then, I have been in the hospital every morning for 290 Pounds per month, have lessons in the afternoon … and therefore revise at night (laughs). This is where we are faced with what our future profession will be. I went into nephrology, in a department of renal transplants, immunology, internal medicine, intensive care of severe burns, in a department of hepato-gastro, infectious diseases, hematology, neurology …

After my first day in the operating room, I was excited, I called my whole family. These studies fascinate and excite me. There is nothing more rewarding than a patient who takes your hand to tell you “Thank you for what you have done for me”. It has nothing to do with a boss thanking you for a successful project.

Obviously, we sometimes see difficult things. I remember my internship in intensive care in 4th year, a service where you are faced with death. It was psychologically complicated. I might not have taken it as well if I had been 20 years younger.

Treat leukemia

When I started these studies, I could see myself becoming a psychiatrist. From now on, I rather project myself in a hematology service, to treat leukemia. To do this, you have to specialize for five years, once you have completed your sixth year.

At the end of the sixth year, I will have to take the national examination for boarding school. Depending on my classification, I will be able to choose my city and my specialty. I absolutely want to stay in Paris. It seems playable to me because the capital is no longer in fashion, and it is easier to have it than cities like Bordeaux, Montpellier or Nantes.

When you are an intern, depending on the number of guards, you earn between 1,600 Pounds and 2,000 Pounds per month. By embarking on these studies, I could have held on with my savings but I really should have reduced my lifestyle. I am fortunate not to be alone. My parents, my husband, my brother were my first supporters. It’s kind of a group project. I think my parents are proud. They taught me that anything is possible, anytime. They can say to each other ‘we are going to be the parents of a doctor’. “

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