The Muse: Dr Nikki Stamp
In this series of The Muse we introduce Dr Nikki Stamp. With a remarkable career as a cardiothoracic surgeon, author and television presenter, we were excited to interview Nikki about the causes close to her heart. She is passionate about championing women - not only as a mentor and supporter of women in surgery but of women in all careers. We asked her about her experiences as a surgeon, her book Can You Die of a Broken Heart?, as well as advice on how to maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Who inspires you? I have found inspiration in a lot of people from my family, to my friends and colleagues and patients. I love to see anyone who works hard and does good for those around them.
What is your dream job? To be honest, I’m doing my dream job which makes me very lucky.
What is your Life Mantra? I am not a real mantra person, but if there was one thing I believe in it would be the value of hard work.
What is the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received? Work hard, stay humble and never give in.
Your book, Can You Die of a Broken Heart?, explores the physical and emotional workings of the heart. What was your main motivation in writing this book? I started blogging a few years ago which then escalated to blogging for outlets like Huffington Post and then the opportunity to write the book came about. I had wanted to write a book but it was extraordinary to see it happen and to be able to share some important information with people is so important to me.
What is the most surprising or unexpected thing you have learnt during your career as a specialist surgeon? I think I have met so many people who have lived such interesting lives and honestly, I never stop being amazed by what incredible stories people have. The patients and their stories really make doing this job entirely worthwhile and they teach me so much every day.
What is the best advice you have for women wanting to live a healthy and happy life? Keep it simple – there is so much garbage information around at the moment when it comes to health and wellness and the vast majority is so ridiculous. The simple things – exercise, eat lots of fruit and veggies, complex carbs and lean meats, don’t smoke and manage your stress – is all we need to do.
Describe your average work day. No such thing as an average work day for me! That’s one of the interesting things about surgery; we never know what’s going to roll through the door. Most days start around 5-5:30am to exercise to get to work at around 7am. The day starts with ward rounds and if I’m operating, I normally do two to three operations a day which usually takes me to anywhere from 5pm to later. And of course, if emergencies happen, we just take them as they come.
You work in what is a notoriously high-stress environment. What is the toughest lesson you’ve had to learn and how do you deal with overcoming adversity in life and in your career? I think that I value resilience because it’s so important to deal with the ups and downs of life. That being said, it has to be cultivated by good self-care and a good support system.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give others looking to succeed in their chosen field? Find something you believe in, put in the work, be mentored and choose a pathway that’s right for you in all facets of your life.