AN ASIAN doctor has said her career in medicine sets her “soul on fire” as she revealed she’s fortunate to get paid for what she loves doing.
Dr Farzana Hussain is a GP at Project Surgery, Newham, and is one of 12 NHS workers who was photographed by Rankin, as part of a project by NHS England to mark the anniversary of NHS on Sunday (5).
Hussain told Eastern Eye that she “grew up around medicine” and described her father, an anaesthetist (now retired), going on his rounds in hospital wards on Christmas Day.
“As a five-year-old, I accompanied him and really enjoyed the chocolates given to me by the nurses and seeing all the patients in the ward when I was a little girl.” When she was a teenager, Hussain’s mother was very ill and died when she was 19, when Hussain was a first-year medical student.
“This motivated me not only to study medicine but to really remember the patients’ journey,” she said.
Hussain recalled she travelled 250 miles from the University of Wales, College of Medicine in South Wales in Cardiff, where she was a student, to visit her mother who was in hospital with end stage heart failure. “She looked really ill. I wasn’t sure whether I should leave her and travel back to medical school or stay. She said, ‘you must go back. I want you to be a doctor and help people. I will be ok.’ She died five days later.”
Almost two decades later, Hussain said she “cannot put into words how privileged I feel to be able to go to work every day and make a difference to people’s lives, just like mum wanted.
“When I look after my patients, I remember that they are someone’s family.”
Describing the role of Asians in the NHS, she said that the heath service “really benefits from migrants”.
She said, “My father came to work in the NHS back in 1970, from East Pakistan. He came to the UK on a scholarship to do some post-graduate study as an anaesthetist.
“(However) The war broke out in the year after and he lost his scholarship and he was left caring for a wife who was in unpaid work (was not working) and also a one-year-old son.
“So he stayed here and served the NHS as an anaesthetist for many, many years.
“He is now 78 and he retired when he was 60.”
Hussain runs a practice in a deprived area of London.
She said, “Making sure that none of our patients are left behind has been really important and has motivated me to keep going. Recently, we introduced a children’s immunisation drive through clinic at the practice because we didn’t want children missing these vital appointments. Using technology, we are now also able to triage all our patients online. The pressing need created by coronavirus has meant we were able to pull in plans and aspirations we have been discussing for years.
“When we opened our drive through children’s immunisation clinic, I remember apologising to the father of a baby I was vaccinating because it was windy outside. He told me not to apologise and said that we are learning together and doing our best during this time. He’s right. We don’t have all the answers just yet and are putting the pieces together as we go along. And that’s okay.”