Getting into medicine

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I often get questions from people about applying to medical school and I though a blog post was in order.

Recently I was contacted by Isha who wrote this blog post. Have a read of the information about her below and some of the questions she asked me. If you’re thinking of applying to medical school (high five my friend) and have any questions, then reach out to me and I will be happy to help. I have spoke to Isha on the phone and can read over personal statements or help with interview practice if you need it.

Over to Isha…

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My name is Isha, and I live on a small (I really mean tiny) island in Northern Scotland. I am currently entering my 4th year of high school and I hope to study medicine in the future, although remaining optimistic, I am working hard to make sure that I make an informed choice – hence why I contacted Salma!

It was quite a journey finding Salma’s blog, but I’m sure glad I did! I was browsing online trying to explore medicine as a career, and this is when I came across a post on Salma’s story on how she got into Medical school (getintomedicine). From reading this, I was eager to ask some questions and I luckily then came across her on Twitter which then lead to me to find her blog.

 

1. What sort of work experience should I do?

Anything that gives you experience of what a doctor does is good work experience. Medicine is a broad field and you have many options. I would say try and get time in a GP practice and a hospital. Having said that I only did work experience in a hospital and that was sufficient. You need to demonstrate that you have experience of what a being a doctor is like so anything that you can use to show that is good. Doing work experience in a hospital shadowing a doctor is the obvious example but doctors also work in labs and you could try and get some experience there.

 

2. When should I start looking into getting work experience?

I would say as soon as you are considering medicine try and get some work experience. The process can be long, with CRB checks and a limited number of places. Also for yourself and not just for your personal experience, it’s a good idea to see practically what it is like being a doctor before you attempt to commit yourself. When I did work experience half of the people hated it and decided medicine wasn’t for them. Better to know early on.

 

3. Is there any summer schools that you would recommend?

Some universities do summer schools which are tailored to people wanting to do medicine. My old flatmate actually did one for medicine at bristol and then went on to study medicine at bristol. These are usually open to student aged 17 and are advertised at the start of the year. Keep an eye out and ask your careers advisor. If there isn’t one local to you, consider traveling. These are a fantastic opportunity.

 

4. What type of volunteering is recommended doing?

I don’t think it really matters which type. Anything that shows that you have interpersonal skills is good. I would add that something done for a longer period of time is better than just a week here and there. I use to volunteer in a mental health unit every week and at an AIDS support services.

 

5. Would it give me an advantage by doing some work experience/charity work in a developing country?

I would say that this is useful but not necessary. You can show a commitment and interest in medicine without leaving the  country by getting some work experience and showing an understanding about what medical school will be like and what being a doctor is all about. Having said that, if you are going abroad anyway, this won’t hurt your application. It can give you something to talk about at interview and it’s always interesting seeing how other health care systems operate. Work experience may also be easier for you to get abroad aswell.

In short, if you can do this, great. If not, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

 

6. How important are extra-curricular activities?

Medical school and then being a doctor is demanding. Extra-curricular activities will SAVE YOU in medicine by keeping you sane and demonstrate to someone reading your personal statement that you can not only get great graded but know how to keep a balanced life. That being said, don’t pick up things for the sake it at the expense of your grades. I did everything at school, drama productions, sports teams, athletics, I was that student volunteering to show parents around during the other years parents evening (judge me). But I enjoyed it.

Anything that can show you are a well rounded individual is good. But you can think outside the box. If you have to look after your younger siblings and don’t have time for much else, you can talk about that at interview. It shows responsibility and that you are able to balance that responsibility with school work.

 

7. Is there anything which I could be doing now that may give me an edge over my application in the future?

Make sure you have as good an idea as possible of what medicine is like. Not just for your application but for yourself. If you really want to do medicine you will make it work.

The thing that will make YOU stand out is being brilliant and being YOU.

When I was at my interview, there was a girl who had a lever arch folder of notes she was revising- all clippings and medicine related stories. I looked at her and thought the only thing that I have over her is that I’m me.

I didn’t go to a fancy school and no one coached me for interviews but I was me and I had confidence in myself that this was the right degree for me. I just had to make the interviewer see that.

I gave it my best shot and got in. Medicine is competitive but so what, you have as good a shot as anyone else so best foot forward and best of luck!

You got this.

Salma xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doctors, burnout and the other side

Today is the laziest day I have had in just over 2 weeks. 12 days of acute medicine. 3 days off spend in 5 different cities. 3 nights shifts and the first real day of rest today.

I was just scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a picture from a fabulous doctor I follow about a conversation she had with one her friends about burn out and almost leaving medicine.

It inspired me to write this blog post.

We all go through so much in medicine and we speak about some of it, but so much happens  in one day it’s impossible to talk through it all. We don’t need to everyday but when you work hard for a long period of time things build up. I truly believe we all need to wind down. Good food, family, friends. There lovely things in life are an essential part of being a half decent doctor, or whatever else makes you happy.

Happy Salma is a much better doctor than overworked tired Salma, I’m very aware of this. But we have all experiences that feeling of burnout. I recently thought I worked so hard so having a brilliant social life for 3 days was necessary. And it was to an extent but I also needed some rest. After my past few days my mind and body NEED a break which I am very conscious of and taking now. Otherwise burnout is too easy. It’s early days with this doctor jig for me and I’m learning the the importance of these things as I muddle through.

Have a read below for some of the stories from doctors about burnout for them and the other side.  Have a great day. Salma xxx

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Life gives you a choice. Being passionate about ones work and dedicated, its easy to slip into a cocoon. As the NHS demands more, patients want more, it’s not too difficult to move into a mode of doing that “bit more”. However, to do justice to ones role, one needs to also look after oneself- whether it is taking time out with friends, family or even something simple as trashy movies or comic books! No one is indispensable…take your time outs, take your breaks, make time for your family…a burnt out professional is no good to anyone- and if anything, creates more work for others. Vocation is not simply a romantic terminology, it indeed is important- but it never should be a tool used by others to burnout the inner drive of a professional. To quote Jon Acuff “Burn your dream bright. Pursue it with the best of who you are. But don’t confuse hustle with burnout. Hustle fills you up. Burnout empties you. Hustle renews your energy. Burnout drains it”. We would, in our busy lives, do well to remember that.

 

The time that truly comes to mind was when I had qualified as a doctor and started my VTS training for general practice. After a very punishing attachment in Obstetrics and Gynaecology I then did Paediatrics. Being the first time I was around small children I seemed to be on a train of viruses and illnesses yet never took any time away. I lost weight and became exhausted and withdrawn and as the rotation drew to an end I was scheduled to start accident and emergency. I remember feeling so utterly scared and alone that I contemplated an alternative pathway from medicine. I asked if I could do swap into a psychiatry attachment to buy 6 months before the A&e job. Instead my VTS coordinator was very sympathetic and could see that throught medical school and pre reg jobs I'd never really had time out to reflect. She suggested a 6 month Career break and it was a brilliant suggestion. I went back to my family, did a few Locums which interestingly gave me lots of confidence. I also did some online learning and then travelled.  When I returned to my VTS training I was put on an innovative scheme and I found this brilliant because I had some autonomy on which specialities I could do.  Looking back you often feel trapped because no one really talks about burnout and there is a bit of bravado and hierachy especially from the senior doctors.   Recognising that just because you've signed up to a rotation, it doesn't mean you are trapped. It's not healthy to be sleep deprived, ill, and scared. Talking about it is so important and realising you have a long journey ahead so cut yourself some slack and don't feel it's a race to consultancy or GP status.
The time that truly comes to mind was when I had qualified as a doctor and started my VTS training for general practice. After a very punishing attachment in Obstetrics and Gynaecology I then did Paediatrics. Being the first time I was around small children I seemed to be on a train of viruses and illnesses yet never took any time away. I lost weight and became exhausted and withdrawn and as the rotation drew to an end I was scheduled to start accident and emergency. I remember feeling so utterly scared and alone that I contemplated an alternative pathway from medicine. I asked if I could do swap into a psychiatry attachment to buy 6 months before the A&e job.
Instead my VTS coordinator was very sympathetic and could see that throught medical school and pre reg jobs I’d never really had time out to reflect. She suggested a 6 month Career break and it was a brilliant suggestion. I went back to my family, did a few Locums which interestingly gave me lots of confidence. I also did some online learning and then travelled.
When I returned to my VTS training I was put on an innovative scheme and I found this brilliant because I had some autonomy on which specialities I could do.
Looking back you often feel trapped because no one really talks about burnout and there is a bit of bravado and hierachy especially from the senior doctors.
Recognising that just because you’ve signed up to a rotation, it doesn’t mean you are trapped. It’s not healthy to be sleep deprived, ill, and scared. Talking about it is so important and realising you have a long journey ahead so cut yourself some slack and don’t feel it’s a race to consultancy or GP status.

 

my fy1 year was pretty cool. i was working at a big teaching hospital and spent much of the year well and truly wrapped in cotton wool, with lots of senior support. but then, in one of the last weekends of the year, i was covering the surgical wards when i came across a terminal cancer patient with an aggressive family. after spending much of my weekend clamoring to the patient (and family) needs, i got to sunday evening when she further deteriorated. i prescribed a medication on the advice of a senior that she reacted badly to, causing her to die traumatically and violently in front of her family and me. i'd never felt more alone in all my life. in the hours and days that followed, i did much soul searching. i kept telling myself that i'd killed her. in hindsight, this was not only melodramatic - it was also plainly inaccurate. several years later, i'm still here. still a doctor. still love my job. so what got me through? friends, family, talking, listening, reflecting. in medicine, there are always difficult times. what matters is how we prepare and protect ourselves and the people that we surround ourselves with. the most valuable thing any doctor has - the people around them - both medical and non-medical. Embrace them and treasure them.
My fy1 year was pretty cool. I spent much of the year well and truly wrapped in cotton wool, with lots of senior support. Then one day I came across a terminal cancer patient with an aggressive family. One evening, they deteriorated. I prescribed a medication on the advice of a senior that they reacted badly to, causing a traumatic and violently death in front of the family and me. I’d never felt more alone in all my life. In the hours and days that followed, I did much soul searching.
I kept telling myself that I’d killed the patient. In hindsight, this was not only melodramatic – it was also plainly inaccurate. Several years later, I’m still here. Still a doctor. Still love my job. So what got me through? Friends, family, talking, listening, reflecting. in medicine, there are always difficult times. What matters is how we prepare and protect ourselves and the people that we surround ourselves with. The most valuable thing any doctor has – the people around them – both medical and non-medical. Embrace them and treasure them.

 

 

Self doubt, see ya

We all like to think that the world resolves around us (at least a bit) whether we like to admit it or not. I am not exception this. This is why I care about women in medicine, women in leadership and women reaching the top of whatever they are doing. These are all aspirations I have for myself. I have a vested interest in caring.

I am also Muslim. From an ethnic minority immigrant family. Of course I care about inequality.

I grew up in a family when I was never told I wasn’t capable of doing what I wanted to do. I don’t have any brothers (I am the youngest of two sisters) so there was never a male sibling for me to be compared to, but I suspect it would have made little difference. I have had nothing but encouragement. My dad has told me to keep up my writing whilst I am working and recently told me I needed to improve my diction (for that time I would have to give a talk). He also said that I should try and do a PhD. As for the typical asian thing of telling your child to get married asap, no one would ever say that to me. The focus is and has always been on me doing what makes me happy. I got pretty lucky with my family.

Looking back thought, it is sad to think that the limiting factor in me getting to where I want to be has sometimes been myself. The very person who should be pushing for the best.

I can so clearly remember the first time that I realised, truly, how hard I was on myself. There is that good being hard on yourself that pushed you and then there was what I was doing. That Salma was crazy and nothing would have ever been good enough for her. I realised this during some teaching in 4th year on paediatrics. Not only did I struggle to name a single good thing I did I also saw a massive difference in confidence level between me and my male colleague.

We can’t and shouldn’t stereotype, but this is a pattern I have seen over and over again.

I’m talking about two people matched equally on paper and the male, 9 times out of 10 having more confidence or at leat appearing to have so.

I think a lot of women have a lot of negative ruminations going on. Or at least I did, but I never identified them. When I did, everything changed. You have to identify a behaviour if you want to change it. I don’t second guess myself anymore. If I don’t know I say so. If I know I know.

In my new job I have been told I am confident and ambitious. These compliments probably wouldn’t have come my way if I continues as I was.

What self talk do you have when you’re in a group? Do you tell yourself your question is a stupid one? Or hold back from giving the answer even when you know it? If you do. Think about why. If you are happy to go on this way, then carry on my friend, but if not then think about how you will change. I honestly think that identification of the issue in the biggest hurdle.

Saying cheerio to self doubt has been one of the best things I have ever done. Only then can you just be. And excel.

Until the next post, Salma xx

Scarcity

scarcity
ˈskɛːsɪti/
noun
  1. the state of being scarce or in short supply; shortage.

Before I decided to write this blog post, I thought that these were all my own thoughts. Turns out that there is a whole body of thought discussing scarcity vs abundance thinking. There are many much more eloquent writing on this topic. This blog point isn’t that but just my thoughts on the topic.

I noticed that I thought differently to some of the people around me. And I had even been told so and sometimes was looked upon as a bit strange.

If we look at medicine for example, if I was going to a great conference or a someone asked me to introduce them to a contact, I would have no issue in connecting them. From what I have seen this isn’t always the “norm”. The way that I look at things, there is enough to go around. If Cindy my colleague is very successful, to me all it means is that Cindy is successful. It has no bearing on my ability to succeed. Cindy being successful doesn’t mean that I can’t be.

The way that I think about things isn’t from a state of poverty. I never think “someone has something so I can’t have it”.Ever. About anything. And if that is how you think then you aren’t going to be running forward to help that person are you? They become your competition and you have less time to focus on your self. I crime in my eyes.

It might only seem like a small a thing, but have a look at how you look at things. It has a bigger impact than you think.

Until the next post.

Salma xxx

thinking in abundance about all the beautiful lobster that was on its way to me
thinking in abundance about all the beautiful lobster that was on its way to me

Some thoughts on finals

Over the past few weeks I have been getting messages from friends in the year below about tips for finals so I thought a blog post would be in order.

Firstly, congratulations. Making it to the final year of medical school is no easy feat and if you have got this far, you can breath a little sigh of relief. Let’s be honest. You have had to sit for many long hours hitting those books and at times it has felt like an uphill battle. You have re-considered your decision to do medicine more than a few times around exam time and now that most of your friends are working and living fabulous lives in the city, being a broke student is getting a little old.

Thankfully, these days will almost be over for you!!

One final hurdle.

If I had a little sibling, this is the advice that I would give them.

1-Get your head straight

I have never received so many messages asking for advice as I have for “final year”. People look at it differently. It’s different in that it is a big exam, but it is still just an exam.

Do not panic. Just how you have sat many exams before, finals is just another one. It is nothing that is beyond you. The title of finals just makes it sounds like something fancy. Don’t let that phase you. Approach this year how you would any other.

2-Get tunnel vision

Finals are like other exams, but the content you have to cover is probably more than you have had to before. You need to be focused. This should be your biggest priority. Have fun, do the things that keep you sane, but be careful how you use your time. A random weekend wasted away is fine here and there, but closer to exams that time is precious. You might kill for an extra hour. Do things that will help you in the long term. Your work is your priority. If you have to re-do an exam or fail, that is on you. You can’t blame anyone else, so be aware of how you are using your time early on.

3- Don’t listen to other people

If I had a pound for the amount of times I heard “I did like no work” from a medical student I would be minted. Unfortunately, people in medicine don’t always say it how it is. Maybe they want to look “cool”. “I spent 10  hours on haematology and I still don’t get it” doesn’t get you many LAD points. My advice to you would be: smile and let it wash over your. Do what YOU need to do. Maybe you can adsorb information by sleeping on a book.  Good for you. The majority of us (me included) need to work hard. Let that be your focus. Don’t pay ANY attention to the mindless “I just painted my nails over the weekend and then got drunk and did no work”. Good for them.

4- Get a syllabus or make one

Most medical schools will have some sort of syllabus for finals. If they don’t, or if it’s really vague, then try and make one. You need some sort of structure to your revision. Make sure you keep looking back at this to make sure you have enough time to cover everything and are on the right track. Passing finals is about being a safe F1 and not to be an expert in the intricacies of sentinel node biopsy. You need to cover a breath of specialities.

If you are struggling with this then get in contact and I can try and help you out.

5-Start early

This is a no brainer. We are all intelligent enough to be pass exams but people who do well are organised. A weekend spent getting your notes together, can be done in the holidays. It’s up to you. I didn’t do that, but I wish that I had. Anything that you can do to make your life easier in the future is an investment in yourself. And you are number one so make your life easier for yourself.

6- Get hold of some good notes

I got my hands on some great notes which I memorised. They are basically the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine typed up but they were easier to print off than to keep using the book. If you want me to send you these notes, just e-mail me and I will happily send them over.

7- Learn in layers with emergencies first

Say for example, you are revising cardiology. I would learn in order in priority. Firstly the emergencies, then the common conditions and then the stuff you might know and then the weird and wonderful.

If you learn in this layered way, you might not have time to cover the weird and wonderful. If you do great, but in this way you don’t miss important topics which as a soon to be doctor, you should know about.

8- Get some form of question bank and start NOW

I wish I did this earlier than I did.There are loads, PASTEST, on examination and many more. They all vary slightly but I wouldn’t get overstressed about which one you are using. I got passtest which was good because I could download the app and then do questions wherever I was. I use to do questions before I went to sleep in bed on my phone. Sad times really, but it was useful!

I guess I am a bit of a perfectionist with my revision and I don’t want to test myself until I know I will get the right answer. But this is NOT the way to go friends. Start as EARLY with past questions as you can. You will learn LOTS and LOTS and “revising” a topic doesn’t mean that you know a topic. This is Medicine, always more to learn 😉

9- If it’s all going wrong- get help as soon as you can

All of the above is all well and good , and if you do it before you start 5th year, you are laughing. I WISH I did that but I didn’t have anyone to tell me all of that or the good sense to realised it myself! Oh well, I landed on my feet.

If you are reading this half way though finals or at a later point and you are flagging please don’t delay getting help.

If you are feeling down and a bit depressed talk to someone. Don’t wait for things to get better on their own.  A friend or a sympathetic GP are all wonderful. You are not the first stressed out medical student and you won’t be the last. The earlier you seek help the earlier you can be helped. Being a medical student doesn’t make you immune to anything. And the added stress can take its tole. If you take anything away, please just talk to someone so you can be helped. Passing finals is the aim but NOTHING is more important than your sanity and happiness. We all go a bit loco around exam time but make sure you look after yourself.

If you are struggling with organisation, ask someone who seems to have a good plan doing to help you out. Or ask me and I might be able to help.

The take home is whatever it is, identify the issue and get help.

10- The bigger picture

In all the crap  of revision, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. You went to med school to become a doctor which you will soon be. I am only a month in, but I don’t think 17 year old Salma could have made a better decision. You are in a privileged position and the pain of finals is temporary.

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Post finals, when I had time to see family and wear makeup! Thank god!

You got this.

Best of luck!!

Salma xxx

Dealing with my first death as a doctor

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Of all the firsts that I was looking forward to as a junior doctor, the first time a patient that I cared for died was not of them. I always knew that this day would come and before I went to medical school this fact was the thing that put me off the most. How would I cope. If you know me you knew that I wear my heart on my sleeve and things upset me. So of course this would too.

Recently during  a 12 day stretch at work I had this experience.

The patient was in their late 90s and was for their age, quite fit and well. I clerk them in and when I went back to see them a few hours later they look terrible sick and I called for help. It was likely that this patient would need an operation but given their age they wouldn’t be able to tolerate the anaesthetic.

I sunk back in my chair while my seniors called family members to discuss DNA CPRS and explained the gravity of a the situation over the phone. It all moved in slow motions for me. A few hours ago I was talking to this patient who didn’t look too sick and now all of this was happening.

My seniors all delt with it better than me. I was trying not to cry and they were talking about the next patient who needed to be seen. It’s not that they don’t care. They have just done this before, and knew how to del with it better than me.

Whilst we waited for the results of the scans we had ordered, we moved on to seeing other patients.

A few days later, we had excluded our initial thoughts for this patient and they were on a ward looking much better. I was optimistic but my seniors had seen this before. This patient was likely going to die.

A fews days on the ward and the patient took a turn for the worst. I spoke to the specialist for this patient and they agreed comfort was the aim. Time to write up anticipatory drugs and call the family over the phone to come in sooner rathe than later.

Two firsts for me as a doctor.

When the family came in my senior took over. My contribution was to sit in the room and hand over a tissue.

At the end of the day I went to see this patient. They looked strangely peaceful with the light of the moon shining on their face. They had a fan on them and had drifted off into what looked like a peaceful sleep.

The next day at work I went to see the patient before the ward round and was told by the nurse looking after them that they had died in the morning. They hadn’t struggled and it was a good death.

When I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to help people. I wanted to save lives. Beat disease. Cure stuff. 

I still want to do all of those things but my outlook is changing. 

What will be will be. All you can do is try. And my God will I try for my patients. But survival is not the only success. Sometimes a good death is the success. Like for this patient. 

No one failed just because this patient died.

Helping someone have a good death is just as helpful as treating a stroke. Death per say isn’t the enemy. A bad, unnecessary, preventable death is.

It’s still early days for me with this doctor jig but I’m glad I get this now.

Inspirational Women: the female surgeon

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One of the best parts of this blog is when I get to shine a light on some of those women I see doing well in life, so we can all learn a thing or two about how it’s really done and celebrate them. Credit where it’s due I say!

This posts features a female surgeon who kindly too the time to answer some of my questions about surgery, being a woman in surgery and dealing with difficulties. I hope you enjoy the read!

Aawaz: We hear a lot about barrier for women in medicine and surgery is no exception. In your experience how real have these barriers been? And how to you tackle them?

During my training I noticed barriers but never realized how they subtly existed against women. Growing up and  with life experience I notice these barriers against women more now than ever before.

It’s the subtleties. The barriers are surreptitious, unspoken, on a subconscious level. No one necessarily identifies them unless ‘they’ are the ones they are targeted at. This is why it is so difficult to combat this ‘silent’ problem.

For example, this includes my male consultant not making eye contact with me as a woman during a ward round, not acknowledging my presence but acknowledging my male colleagues, talking with my male colleagues when it should be to both of us. Encouraging my male colleagues to aim high but not me. This subtle barrier is very different to the obvious prejudice against women for taking maternity leave, the expiry date of a woman career post childbirth, this ‘subtle’ day to day prejudice that I notice daily is far more damaging to any womans career progression.

The only good thing that has come from such prejudices and barriers against women is it has made women like me work even harder and more fiercely to create change for the future.

Aawaz: I feel quite strongly that women should support one another, how do you feel about this? 

One of the biggest problems of barriers against women is other women.

Women don’t want to see other women succeed and that bothers me; a lot.

I understand why Men don’t want to see women succeed – because they feel demasculinized, since the beginning of time and evolution, from they day they are born they are gender-typed into being ‘the provider’ and when in the presence of a ‘strong’ woman they ‘react’ they feel they don’t have a purpose, a purpose that was traditionally valued.

Women however, I still don’t understand. I have pondered over this time and time again. Women feel threatened by other women. ‘We’ don’t like to see other women succeed.

Especially women who have achieved their aspirations and were criticized by men along the way they often feel bitter and cynical and end up projecting what was done to them onto their female successors.

We can be our worst enemies. several times I have had female mentors who have advised me to ‘think seriously before you enter this career choice’, ‘its too tough for women’, ‘if you want children you shouldn’t do surgery’, ‘its too hard, are you sure your up to it?’ We should be nurturing and encouraging each other not waiting for each other to fail.

If we amongst ourselves as women are not clear on how we should be treated and valued.. then how can we expect the rest of society to treat us better?

Aawaz: How you do you feel about sharing your career aspirations? Do you think it’s something that people should keep to themselves or not? 

During medical school peers were very ‘cloak and dagger’’ about their career aspirations – as though if they divulged their aspirations their colleagues would steal their ideals and surpass them in the ‘competition of life’. Playground behavior never interested me.

What you achieve has nothing to do with others around you. I am open about my career aspirations especially if it inspires those around me to achieve.

Aawaz: What are some of the good things that you have done in your career that you wish you had done earlier?

Talk to men. For a long time I had strong feministic views which all birthed from the way men treated me negatively.

However when I started to talk to men more and acknowledge their presence I was able to show them how women contribute positively to society and their mindsets began to change. I just wish id started earlier I would have converted many more men by now!

Aawaz: Who inspires you?

My family. My mother is the epitome of patience, endless giving and resilience. My father is the epitome of resilience and hard work. My grandmother is the matriarch who is placed at the top of the current family tree to generations of individuals – she is a current and clear living example of a strong female leader. Miss Walls A senior breast consultant, one of the strongest women I know in all aspects of her life, through the good and the bad. She knows what she has done for me.

Aawaz: What is the most important quality in a good surgeon.

Emotional Intelligence.

Aawaz: I am very early on in my medical career and not sure what I want to do. Should I be worried?! 

No, no and no. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Don’t make a decision until the end of your F1 year – at least. By then you’ve had an experience of what life as a doctor is really like.

Aawaz: Can you “have it all”?

If you want something you’ll make it happen

I’m living proof of this and so are thousands of other women.

Aawaz: Finally and most importantly, If you weren’t a surgeon what would you be doing?

Easy. Fashion Designer.

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Massive thank you to Shazia Hafiz, inspirational female surgeon, for taking the time to write this.