I have spent the past week pondering the bizarre career change I made 15 years ago.

You see, I read your report of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health conference (News Focus, page 14, 28 May) at which Edward Peck cited as a problem the number of health commissioners who do not have a clinical background - 'the most bizarre one we came across was a librarian'.

After qualifying as a librarian many years ago, I spent a year as an unemployed volunteer in various London hospitals. Eventually I got a job as a librarian, but I could never forget the patients I had known.

Several years later I left librarianship to become a voluntary services organiser at one of the London teaching hospitals.

I can still remember the moment when I made the decision. It was the only 'road to Damascus' experience I have ever had.

I was walking up St Pancras Road, past one of the hospitals in which I had previously worked.

Tears in my eyes, I said to myself: 'I will demonstrate my commitment to those patients: I will join the NHS.'

I was a voluntary services organiser for many years before I became a manager - first of support services, then a business manager, and now in my present role.

I did once apply for a commissioner's job, but I didn't get it - perhaps Dr Peck was on the selection panel.

Like everyone, I have a particular career path which gives me certain strengths and perspectives.

Again, like everyone, I have certain weaknesses and deficits of experience - these I try to overcome, largely through facilitating multidisciplinary decisions rather than making them myself.

What I have always considered a strength is my librarianship past. It's not just about issuing books.

Librarianship gives a defined package of information skills which come into daily use in management, and is of far more use than most of the formal management training I received. So much so that when people ask me if I miss information work I say no, because I've never left it.

So what does this prove? Nothing except that people discover their commitment as they go on in life, leading them to change careers.

Also that the NHS has always thrived on multidisciplinary working - and that includes disciplines from outside the NHS.

And if anyone out there wants to set up a support group for people who are suffering from bizarre career changes, please contact me.

R H Keys

Mental health policy co-ordinator

BHB Community Health Care trust