How does she manage?: Plastic surgeon - Dalia Nield, The London Clinic

When did you become a manager?

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I switched to private practice from the NHS in 1995, when the Government tried to close St Bartholomew's hospital, London, where I was a consultant.

What does management mean to you?

It's a balancing act. I specialise in reconstructive work with cancer patients, but I couldn't do it all the time - it's too stressful, and you can't cry all day. So I also do cosmetic surgery. My role in that is the same - improving people's lives - and both are equally important. Selecting patients is difficult. I reject patients I don't feel comfortable with. This is tough when you've been trained to do good for everyone. But the patient-surgeon relationship is very intimate and has to be right. In the NHS I was part of a team; now I'm on my own, my patients are my patients and, if they're cancer victims, they're mine for life.

What do you like/dislike about your job?

It's like an art, working with body shapes, and I love being the light at the end of the tunnel. If a person has had a mastectomy, I'm at the end of the line, bringing them back to normality. It's beautiful. But the negative perception of plastic surgery affects me. People only read about celebrities with breast enhancements and girls getting a nose job for their 15th birthday. I don't see that. It's not a case of 'oh, I just fancy changing this a bit'. I see only genuine problems.

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