Dr X (not named for ethical reasons), obstetrician and gynaecologist Age: 45. Career path: I grew up in Hong Kong and finished secondary school in Dover and then went to the University of Dundee to study medicine. Medicine was something I drifted into, half my parents' wish and half mine, I think. Doing obstetrics was also a fluke because it was the speciality that had places after my internship, so I took it. I found it exciting because it enabled me to practice medicine and do some surgery. After qualifying as a doctor I went to Inverness to do my housemanship and then to Raigmore Hospital for my senior housemanship. After that I went back to the university teaching hospital in Dundee where I spent a year specialising in obstetrics before moving on to one of the peripheral hospitals where I qualified. All in all, it took about 10 years to become a qualified obstetrician and gynaecologist. I then worked in Aberdeen. I spent 16 years in Scotland. Coming back to Hong Kong was a fluke. The University of Hong Kong was looking for a temporary lecturer and so I took the job. I missed Scotland and found it a real culture shock being back here and I couldn't stand the politics. So after two years, I went to a government hospital. I stayed there for two years then, in 1993, I opened my own practice and found my niche. I am really busy now. Dr X's day: Deliveries can't be planned. I try to operate (planned caesareans) in the mornings and then do ward rounds before going to my clinic, but obviously I have to drop everything when there is an emergency. There is absolutely nothing nine-to-five about this job - I never know if I will get a whole night's sleep. This is difficult, especially after a hard day's work, but I'm not complaining. Weekends and public holidays are also not sacred. I think I had a delivery every day over Lunar New Year. I do, however, try to take regular holidays and plan at least nine months ahead because I have to let my patients know if I won't be here for their delivery. On a day with no unexpected delivery, I see patients from 10 am until 1 pm, and 3 pm until 6 pm. Technically, I have Wednesday and Saturday afternoons off, but these days are often taken up with surgery or deliveries. I see more than a dozen women every day at my clinic and I deliver at least 15 babies a month. The satisfaction I derive from it is not so much the thrill of birth anymore, but coming to know my patients and meeting their families and sharing their joy. My only real passion is boating, but I find so little time to go out and it sometimes gets interrupted anyway. I got married two weeks ago, but fortunately my wife knows what she has let herself in for. Salary: A conservative estimate would be around $200,000 a month. Ambition: To deliver my own child someday. Dr Y (not named for ethical reasons), anaesthetist Age: 40. Career path: Growing up in the Sudan, my childhood was one long summer holiday. My father was a cotton trader and my mother was a teacher. Later, I went to school in Bolton and then I went to the University of Leeds to do medicine. After I qualified, in 1979, I did my anaesthetic training in Nottingham and Edinburgh. Getting into anaesthetics happened quite simply because I thought anaesthetists were the only doctors who were actually friendly to medical students and I thought it would be better to be around them. It took five years and a year's housemanship to qualify as a doctor and then a further six years to qualify as an anaesthetist. After that, I worked in Nottingham and Edinburgh. I came to Hong Kong quite by chance in 1986. While I was waiting for an advanced training course we were encouraged to work abroad for extra experience - I applied to various countries and took the first position that came up. My first job in Hong Kong was at the Grantham Hospital, where I stayed for about three years. I moved to Japan to take up a research post because I had always wanted to see that country and being paid to do it seemed like a good idea. My wife is from Hong Kong and so I came back in 1991, worked for the government for a while, and then decided in 1993 to set up my own private practice. Dr X's day: My business consists of a mobile phone, a pager, a car and a fax at home if I need it. I do an average of four operations a day, mainly anaesthesia for obstetric and gynaecological cases, orthopaedic operations and cardio-vascular surgery. I hopefully have some elective surgery booked for early each morning and emergency operations are often done in the evenings after the surgeons have finished the day's work at their clinics. In between, I may have other emergency operations. I never have a whole week mapped out - even the elective operations are usually only booked a day or two in advance. Before an operation, I spend time with the patient trying to put him/her at ease and I explain what I am going to do, the possible complications and then we proceed. Communication is very important because people are generally afraid and need reassurance. Once the patient is under anaesthetic, an important part of my job is monitoring them in case there are any changes in their condition. It's a critical part of the operation. It's not true that anaesthetists read the newspaper once their patient is asleep! I really like what I do, but I don't have weekends off as I can be called out at any time of the day or night. The one good thing about my schedule is that the gaps I have during the day give me time to spend with my two young sons. Salary: I would love one. No seriously it varies greatly depending on how many operations I do and what kind of procedure it is because I earn a percentage of the surgeon's fee. Ambition: Stay in Hong Kong. Be healthy, wealthy and wise.