Zoe De Toledo
Determined but lazy
Zoe De Toledo is a first year medical student at Oxford University. She was a Team GB rowing cox, winning silver with the women’s rowing team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. She also coxed the British team that won a gold medal at the 2016 European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg. Zoe now teaches others how to cox. She gained an undergraduate degree in psychology from Oxford Brookes University in 2009, and completed masters’ degrees in psychological research and in criminology at Oxford University in 2012.
You can follow her on Twitter @ZoeDeToledo.
What did you want to be as a child?
I wanted to fly Thunderbird 2, but now I would also like to be Nigella Lawson.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My parents: my mum, Lane; my dad, Teddy; and my stepmother, Magna. My parents have been separated for as long as I can remember, but they are great friends and all three of my parents work as a team together.
If you were given £1m what would you spend it on?
I would get myself and my partner Alex on the property ladder and take my friends on a nice holiday.
Where are you, or have you been, happiest?
Either with a book on the beach in Barbados, or on the water [rowing] when the sun is out and with somewhere nice to row.
What book should every doctor read?
The House of God by Samuel Shem, for the humanity of it. It is an honest book about what life is like in the medical profession.
What poem, song, or passage of prose would you like mourners at your funeral to hear?
Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Guilty pleasures are probably my guilty pleasure; I think you should just enjoy your life and not worry about such things.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt as a medical student?
Start working at the beginning of your first term, and not just when you have exams. Also, don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it, with both the emotional and academic side of medical school.
What has been the most memorable moment at medical school?
We worked with one patient consistently throughout last year, and having him and his wife let me into their house and be honest about the illness was amazing. I learnt the importance of treating patients holistically and the need to always look at the bigger picture regarding patients’ care and lifestyle.
Do you support doctor assisted suicide?
I support the idea of euthanasia, but I don’t believe the person who has diagnosed or treated the patient should have the responsibility of administering it. I also believe the patient should have sufficient time to make this decision and undergo psychological checks to make sure it is a decision they are comfortable with.
Summarise your personality in three words
Sarcastic, determined, but lazy.
What are your pet hates?
People who are always late and people with no manners.
What would be on the menu for your last supper?
The main course would comprise a sushi banquet and a lobster roll. Desert would be a chocolate fondant and a massive cheese board. And, to finish off, I’d like a Cable Car (a rum cocktail).
What subject should students receive more teaching on at medical school?
Self care. It’s so difficult to look after yourself in medicine—emotionally and physically—and it would be helpful to have more teaching on this. Rowing has helped me to become more resilient, as it took years of work to become part of the Olympic rowing team.
What would you like to have achieved by the end of your career?
To find a specialty that works for me and that I am good at, and to pass down good practice to juniors below me. I am also looking forward to turning rowing, which was my job, back into a hobby that I can do alongside my job.Matt Billingsley, editor, Student BMJ
Competing interests: None declared.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.