Juggling professional football alongside a burgeoning medical career would be difficult in normal circumstances let alone in the middle of a pandemic, but it's something Harriet Scott has become accustomed to.
The Birmingham City co-captain is in her third year of studying medicine at Keele University and has been balancing playing in the Barclays FA Women's Super League alongside shifts at Royal Stoke Hospital.
Taking blood and recording ECGs are just two of the duties the 27-year-old has been undertaking as she has experienced rotations in surgery, mental health and cardiology.
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But, for Scott, being able to focus on football as well as her studies has been vital during this busy time.
"It is a juggling act at the moment," Scott said. "For me I really enjoy being able to step away and have an allocated time where I have to exercise which is always beneficial.
"I'm so competitive that if I lose, it's still the worst thing for me at that particular time. The blessing is whenever I'm doing in medicine, I'm fully invested in that and when I'm doing football, I'm fully invested in that.
"It works both ways in that respect. Every loss, I do sulk over that for a good 24 hours, but I can't sulk for too long because I've got something else to switch on to.
"I really could not praise the club any more for being able to do what I'm doing right now. The Blues have been instrumental and monumental in me being able to do it. I would not be able to do what I'm doing right now if it wasn’t for the staff at the club."
Scott initially trained as a physiotherapist and worked in that field full-time before taking a career break when she turned professional in 2016 with Reading.
That time allowed the defender to work out what she wanted to do career-wise and she ended up applying for the course, sitting the exam and went to the interview without telling anyone.
Eventually Scott deferred for a year but then embarked on her medical journey and notes how difficult some of the shifts have been – especially during the mental health rotation.
"There are always patients that have really difficult situations," she explained. "Especially now with COVID, we're finding that it's a lot worse and people are being triggered easier or they have a lot more stress because it's a really difficult time for everybody.
"We're seeing some really unwell patients in that respect, which is difficult, but it's really beneficial for me to see right now for my learning.
"The NHS is under such intense strain and I've worked within the NHS since when I qualified as a physiotherapist and the strain that people are under is nothing that should be happening at this point in time. It's admirable how people are still working and still taking every single day as it comes.
"It is hard seeing what all the staff are having to go under and the patients that are suffering to the global thing that's going on with us right now, but it's an experience I'm really glad that I'm doing at the moment."
Last time out in the league, Birmingham claimed a point away at Everton thanks to Jamie-Lee Napier's first goal for the club.
They face Aston Villa next in the second city derby and back in November, it was the Blues who came out on top at Villa Park with a 1-0 victory.
The sides are separated by just one point in the table with Birmingham ninth with 11 points and Villa just below them in tenth.
But Scott knows both sides have developed since their last contest and is hoping for three points as a birthday treat.
She added: "It's going to be my birthday on the day of the game, so it will be a good birthday present for us hopefully and I'm looking forward to it.
"They've strengthened as a team. [Mana] Iwabuchi is a phenomenal player, we've seen the impact already she's had on the league. We're not underestimating her at all, we're fully aware of how good she is. We're respecting her but we're not going to give her too much respect.
"At the end of the day, it's a derby and that's a completely different game altogether. I'm looking forward to playing that team particularly, they've developed so much but I think we've changed drastically since the last time we played them.
"We've strengthened in so many areas, we have competition all over the pitch now. Carla [Ward] said to us the other day, she's had a real selection headache for the last game and that's something we haven't had most of the season so it's really good for us to have that competition in training now. There's a bit more bite to everybody and we'll see that going into the game I'm sure."
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