I first heard of Dr. Easmon when I attended the Alternative Careers and Wellbeing Event for Doctors. He delivered a talk entitled: 'From Boom to Bust and Back: A Cautionary Tale from No.1 Harley Street'. It was an interesting personal story and I wanted to know more about him and his career. I later caught up with him at the 'Enterprising Doctors Workshop', (hosted again by Medic Footprints in conjunction with Your Excellent Health Service (YEHS), of which Charlie is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder) where I spoke to him in depth and invited him to talk to me more formally for 'Spotlight Interviews'.
Charlie was born in Ghana and raised by his aunt until the age of two, after which he was raised by his mum who was a nurse working in England at the time. His father, Charles Odamtten Easmon- a prominent surgeon in Ghana- did not play an active part in his life. From the ages of 7-17 he studied at a number of Catholic boarding schools and decided to embark on a career in Medicine, with his principle reason being "to find a cure for cancer". He later told me that his great grandfather is John Farrell Easmon who was also a well respected doctor.
Although Charlie told me his reason for wanting to study Medicine was to find a cure for cancer I cannot help but think that he was always destined to enter the medical field having read about the large number of distinguished doctors in the Easmon family.
Charlie's Medical Career
Charlie trained at St. George's medical school in London. He mentioned however, that after working long hours as a senior doctor: "a mad busy med reg job" he felt "disillusioned" with medicine and turned into a person he did not like. He also explained that there was a degree of overt and covert racism. Consequently he decided working in the National Health Service (NHS) "wasn't for me" and decided to leave with no contingency plan. However, he quickly found something he enjoyed- working as a freelance doctor for medical insurance companies through medical evacuations. After six years, due to the incredibly "disruptive" nature of the job to his personal life, he decided to change his plans once again.
Humanitarian Work and Further Study
Charlie decided to undertake a Masters degree in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Diploma in Tropical Medicine at Liverpool school of tropical medicine. He then went on to work with a large number of organisations where he treated thousands of patients overseas. He explained that he helped to set up a refugee camp for over 12,000 people in Rwanda (two years after the genocide in 1994) when he was working with the charity Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN). Whilst there he also volunteered with the Save the Children charity. During this time he also worked with ECHO- the European Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Whilst lecturing in tropical medicine he was invited to work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, looking after the health of diplomats and inspecting medical facilities abroad. This led him to travel to a number of countries worldwide including Egypt, Morocco, Japan and the Philippines.
In addition to this the Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid for his Diploma in Occupational Medicine at the Royal Society of Public Health. It was only after a lecturer did not turn up and his peers nominated him to lecture the class that he began lecturing and now is one of the lecturers on the course, more than eleven years later.
Charlie found great difficulty in trying to pass the public health exam and tried several times, but was not able to pass all modules at the same time.Thus, he decided to start his own business called The Number One Health Group. The company specialised in health screening and vaccinations in addition to occupational health services.
However, due to a number of reasons the business collapsed and around the same time Charlie was also going through a divorce. He had not worked in the NHS for a number of years and knew that deep down he did not want to go back so he decided to try again and re-branded the business. It was not easy at all Charlie told me, especially when his credit rating was so poor but he continued to believe in his vision and began again with YEHS.
Advice and Walt Disney
I asked Charlie if he had words of advice or wisdom for anyone in a similar situation to him. He explained that you should seek out people who have done what you want to do i.e they've started a business and learn from them, even buying "a millionaire lunch". You should also be approachable and learn about the world you want to enter, so in this case business. He knows now that "most businesses go bust" but it is important to move on and persevere in order to find and create something better than before.
Charlie left me with what he wants to achieve in life and that is being like Walt Disney. He elaborated on this by saying that Walt Disney visited a number of amusement parks but did not like what he saw, for example he felt that the rides were unsafe. So, what did he do? He set about creating a solution and so Disneyland was born. Similarly, Charlie sees that there are a number of areas that could be improved within Medicine and is also doing something to change the existing situation.
Charlie is a remarkable person; he says you should be approachable and I find that he is just that. In the short time I have known him I can say that he is someone who is always willing to help others. I believe in the saying that you should never be the smartest person in the room and so I like to engage with people such as Charlie- ambitious, driven, determined and intelligent. He chose Medicine as a career, (or perhaps it chose him) but soon realised working in the NHS was not for him and so looked for ways to change his situation. I think this is the take home point, well for me anyway. If something is not right for you do something about it; change your situation. There is no use complaining about it; complaining is not going to get you anywhere. But, if you dare to be courageous and take risks you may actually find that you are much more successful and more importantly happy.
Featured image from The Times