Dr. Sobya Anum’s Experience as a Working Mother in the NHS
I am writing this to help and encourage ladies, especially mothers with little kids who are struggling to survive in the NHS with so many other things on their minds to look after.
I decided to write on this subject because on and off I keep coming across different girls who face the same situation as I did. So I thought I should make my contribution of little help by sharing my experience.
Let me start with a little introduction about myself first. I came to the UK in April 2016. I got registered with the GMC in December 2016. I started a job as an SHO in November 2017. I cleared MRCP Part 1 in June 2018. Meanwhile doing a job changed my mind from going into CMT to GP training. I took the GP training entrance exam in August. I passed the exam and I got selected in the interview. I will start GP training in February 2019 inshaAllah. I also intend to complete my MRCP, so I took MRCP Part 2 in October. I am currently awaiting result for MRCP Part 2.
When I started working last year in November, my baby was only 8 months old. Before joining, I had varying feedback from people around me regarding childcare. Some of them scared me by telling me horrible stories about childminders and daycares, while others directly or indirectly mentioning how good they feel sacrificing their career for their children. Only a few encouraged me to go ahead with the job. Now looking back, I am happy I listened to the later ones. We decided to send our son to daycare centre within our hospital premises. Initial few days were hard but now Rayyan runs ahead of us to enter his nursery and Alhamdulillah he is very wellsettled there.
My First Job: Hard to cope
I started my first job in Neurosurgery. My husband was working in the same department. Initially, I thought it was going to be easy since I had my husband’s support; most people knew me through his reference. I felt adjusting into this job would not be an issue. But it is safe to say that I was wrong. There was so much pressure, so many expectations; every job needed to be done there and then. I had to face all the issues that every newcomer faces in the NHS. I continued somehow for four months and then decided to quit for good because the job was getting stressful each day; I was finding it very hard to cope.
My Second Job: A blessing
I then moved to Neurorehabilitation unit. Again there were all sorts of opinions. Many people think that the rehabilitation ward is not a good option for starters in the NHS. But for me, it was a blessing. The reasons being: there were no on-call shifts. I could give time to home and my baby. On the ward there were no critical patients; there were not many jobs. I reopened books and started studying for exams. I had not done any audits. I discussed some topics and ideas with my educational supervisor. I undertook my first audit on my own and then the second audit with my registrar. My supervisor knew that I have an interest in medicine; he talked to one of the medical consultants. I started doing the ward round with him once a week in AMU. While staying inthe rehab unit, I started taking exams one by one which I have mentioned above in detail.
What I Learnt
The point of sharing my experience is to help out young mothers who at one point or another are going to face the same. I have learnt the following during my first year in the NHS:
- There is no right time to study after being married or after having children. Study whenever you get a chance. Even if means reading one MCQ in the entire day. Little learning is better than no learning. Whichever exam you intend to take, subscribe to its question bank online months ahead of time so that you have plenty of time to prepare. Do not put too much pressure on yourself if you register yourself for an exam. Do not be harsh on yourself.
- Do not let other people bring you down if you decide to start or resume your job with a little child. No one would like to leave the comfort of their home to get exhausted. We need a job that is why we have to take this tough decision. Let me reassure you that nurseries here are expensive but very good in terms of care; your child will love it once they are adjusted.
- If your ward or trust allows, opt for 9 to 5 duties with no-call shifts, if you have kids under 2 years of age. Pay will be less but you will be mentally and physically relaxed. Again you will have enough time for study and additional stuff including audits and appraisals.
- Do not worry too much if you feel you know nothing compared to others or feel being targeted at work. I learnt this the hard way but I have stopped bothering about irrelevant opinions of others about me. Just do your job honestly, that’s what we are hired for. We only learn with experience and experience comes with time. Try your best. If things do not go right, there’s always a chance to make corrections. Know your superviser and keep them in the loop. They are your most firm support in the NHS.
- Lastly, take very good care of yourselves. Your family and children need you the most. Take rest when you are tired so that you do not burn out. Arrange get-togethers with close friends once in a while, go out for shopping on your own even if it is for an hour. All these little things will help us relax which ultimately have a positive impact on our family and work life.
May Allah help us all and make things easier for us. Ameen!
Dr. Anum started working in the NHS in November 2017. She cleared her MRCP Part 1 in June 2018. She has passed her GP training entrance exam and will begin training in February 2019. This post was published with Dr. Anum’s consent.