UCL Careers


Transcript: Careers in Frontline Healthcare

If you enjoy working with people and want to make a real impact in their lives, then you’ll value this episode, where you’ll hear from healthcare professionals and those training to work directly with patients and clients in a health focused role. Guests include those with experience in the areas of Medicine, Speech and Language Therapy and Midwifery.


people, patients, pandemic, hospital, job, ucl, bit, gp, Doreen, Amrita, career, medicine, students, day, midwife, work, interview, empathy, support, role


Jo Budd, Nikki Baxter, Emma Louise Sinnott, Doreen Okyere, Yanja Chuluunbaatar, Amrita Sen Mukherjee

Jo Budd  00:06

Hello there, everyone and welcome to the UCL careers podcast. My name is Jo Budd, and I'm a careers consultant here at UCL careers. This episode provides an opportunity to hear from health professionals and those training to work directly with patients and clients as part of our health themed week. During this discussion, you will hear from a GP, a midwife, a current UCL Medical student, and a highly specialised speech and language therapist. So let's get into it.

Emma Louise Sinnott  00:35

So yeah, my name is Emma Louise, and I'm a speech and language therapist. And I just thought today, what I would do just like Nikki said, I'm going to tell you guys a bit about myself and my career so far, I just thought I'd tell you a bit about what my day looks like. And then obviously, just take into account this year has been a bit of a different year for all of us. So, yeah, I qualified in 2013 from the University of Ulster, I then had knee surgery, that meant I couldn't work straightaway. So I came to UCL and I did a master's degree in neuroscience language and communication, which is very much fed my want of learning about brains I have to say if anythings wrong with the brain, I'm super interested in it. And so I find myself then working a lot in neurology. And I worked in a lot of different places, some big hospitals in London, primarily, I've worked in London, but recently moved to Wales, which has been a bit of a culture shock have to say, but that's something I'll come to in a minute. Um, and, yeah, so we're actually I sent out a tweet like 18 months ago about my day, and it was just really well received. So I just thought it would tell you guys a little bit about those sort of patients that I would see and things that we do. So this is a bit of a sort of a day in the life kind of what I would normally do in a day. So the first person this, this was an actual day that I went to see this woman who is 53 had had a stroke, big massive stroke standing at a bus stop one day, and she couldn't really talk anymore. She'd been in a coma for a long time. And I was helping her just communicate with her eyes. And I went into her room talking away as I normally would do. And she doesn't say anything, as per usual. And I'm getting something in my bag and next, she just turns she just goes, I can hear the words, I'm fine. And I was like, excuse me. She looked as shocked as I did. So I ran around the nursing home telling everyone about this. And I then went to see someone else who has got trouble. It's a guy who's 27 was in a road traffic accident. He's what we kind of call it walking wounded. So he looks fine. He's like a big Eastern European guy. But when he starts talking, oh, my God, like you cannot stop him. He just talks and talks and talks and talks. And so my job is to help him stop doing that. So teaching him how to take cues and things like that. And I walked into his house, and he just says to me, so today I thought about killing myself. And I was like, okay, so needless to say, we didn't talk about his talking problems that day. I then went from there, to see another lady who's got dementia, she turned 94 that day. And I was seeing her because her swallowing is not so good anymore. And that's something that happens in dementia. And I was explaining to her husband, you know, she's gonna start eating a pureed diet. And he actually left the room and I was like, What is going on? And he came back and he said to me, You know, I, this is my wife of 70 years. And this is just another thing to slip away. And so this is sort of the conversation that we we have to have. So obviously, I'm going up and down a lot in this day. I then went on to see someone else who's a 33 year old guy who has a hypoxic brain injury, which is he had had a pancreas transplant, because you've got diabetes, and he unfortunately died on the table for about 12 seconds. And from that he cannot read and write anymore. So this is the first time I met this guy and I was like so man like what do you want to do? Like what what what can I help you do? And he was like, I need to be able to use Tinder. He was like I cannot read and write us like how am I supposed to meet anybody if I cannot read and write so that's that's what I was like. Cool. All right, let's let's work on Tinder. So we did it was so you guys know he did actually get a date. Not yeah for that. And then the last person I saw in that day was a person who has got motor neurone disease. And I basically we spent the afternoon helping him put like beautiful math messages to his wife into this machine that we have. It's kind of like a Stephen Hawking type of machine that except we put his voice into it to talk, like to his wife about, like, I love you and you light up my life and just stuff that would like make your heart melt. So yeah, so it's not the King's speech. Like that's what everyone seems to think that I do is the King's speech. But it's, it's a pretty roller coaster day, right? You know, like, it's, it's got a lot of ups and downs. But I have to say, I love my job I really love. I'm very privileged to get so fabricated into people's lives. And I work in the community a lot. So it means I go in and out of people's houses. So we're like, we are like in your life a lot. And I, I'm just so grateful for that I love that about about this job. Obviously, this year has been next level compared to that. So just to sort of give you guys an insight to what this year looks like, you know, we had I watched my team, which is we normally spend our days seeing people like that, we changed into what we call a discharge to assess team. So our job just became get people out of hospital, get them home, like and stop them going back into hospital, we changed all our working to virtual so you can imagine for someone who's got communication problems, that's that's super tricky. Or then even going to their house, with a mask on, that becomes super tricky. And I also I was given the opportunity to be redeployed as a complex discharge lead in Charing Cross hospital. So that was very much about like helping the hospital stopping lead beds being blocked, getting people as soon as possible. So I learned a lot of skills if you're in flexibility and resilience and empathy, which, you know, have really stood out to me. And yeah, and now I've just moved to Wales, in the middle of a pandemic, I'm not sure that was the best decision of my life, but I'm quite happy here. But I have to say, I've gotten from working in central London, where everyone is pretty technical. I'd like you know, there's a lot of money in London, my team, we all had our own laptops, we were able to work from home, the team I work in now has got six laptops for 18 of us. And a lot of my patients and people that I work with, they don't have the technology in their home, we're working one of the most deprived areas in the UK now. So we have to physically go and see them because they don't have the technology to to work with us in that way. So that's been a super interesting point of this year. But yeah, just the very last thing I will say about working in healthcare, I graduated eight years ago. And I find now in my life, a lot of my friends who are who didn't necessarily go into healthcare, are starting to kind of feel they're asking me, you know, how do I become a physio? How do I become an OT? How do I become a nurse? Like, how does that work? Because this year, one of them was like, I never felt so redundant. Whereas I tell you now and everyone else on this panel will say they were very busy this year. So it's super rewarding. And I personally am super excited about where the rest of my career is going to take me and I'm really looking forward to hearing what these guys have been up to as well. But yeah, speech therapy is cool. BSB service.

Nikki Baxter  08:28

Yeah, thank you. That was fantastic. Really, really enjoyed hearing from you. That was really, really interesting. So thank you ever so much. Brilliant. Okay. Can I move on to Doreen plays during Would you like to give us a career bit of career history and explain a little bit about your current role for us, please?

Doreen Okyere  08:47

Sure. Good evening, guys. My name is Doreen. I am midwife at a London based hospital I qualified seven years ago, so went from a levels straight to uni to study my midwifery degree. So I've moved. I've worked in three hospitals so far. I started off in Kingston hospital, was there for about four years and I think from the elders finding my feet as a newly qualified, then I went on to do some case loading for vulnerable moms. So I was working mostly with teenagers who may have mental health issues who are in domestic violence. So I was caseload in them from the beginning to the end of their pregnancies, and afterwards, so I decided to say that a bit further into another hospital in a more senior role. work there for a while and I left and now work in a really big hospital in southwest London. I'm currently the postnatal antenatal Ward my job. So my day really is clinical twice a week and also work in terms of managing the team, managing staff sickness counsellor times So my role just you know, making sure the teams find making sure that their day to day activities have enough staff to support the area, I'm still excited to see where else I can go my career because there's, I'm still quite early, still quite young. In my career in the NHS, I'm still looking for new ways where I can develop my role, and how I can help mothers a bit more. So my day with at the moment is not as exciting as Ms. Because I did community work for about two years most case folding. I haven't done that for almost two years now. And I do miss it sometimes just going into homes and just spending time with moms. Because in the hospitals with things of time constraint, you don't get to give them as much time as you can do whereas in their home, you know, you plan your day, I can be there for an hour, two hours if I have to. So I do miss that part of community. So I'm looking into that again. But yeah, that's my day. I do still do mechanical jobs. As I said, I still deliver babies. I'm still counting down my deliveries as I go. And that's the most rewarding part of the job is just spending time with moms that welcoming a newborn into the world, being the first phase they see when they come into the world is quite cool. So yeah, do you enjoy doing that? That's me.

Nikki Baxter  11:15

Doreen. That's, that's fantastic. Can you tell me, do you know how many deliveries you've done?

Doreen Okyere  11:20

So I'm on 190 at the moment.

Nikki Baxter  11:23

Fantastic. Absolutely amazing. That's brilliant. Thank you ever so much. That's so that's wonderful. Good to hear from you. And so I can see, if Yanja, if I could ask you to unmute yourself and give us a an overview of your career so far, and your career journey. That would be fantastic.

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  11:49

So Hi, everyone. Good evening. My name is Yanja Chuluunbaatar. Also slightly different to Emma and Doreen, I'm still actually a student. So I'm a final year graduate entry medical student at King's at the moment. But I did my Bachelor of Science and biomedical science at Kings graduated in 2015. And then went on to study a masters at UCL and finished that in 2016. And I'm sure just like a lot of you guys who are attending this talk, you might be at a bit of a crossroads at what to do next. And I certainly felt that I didn't know whether something like medicine was what I wanted to go into, or whether it was research. So I kind of took that year during my Masters as an opportunity to try and figure out what I really wanted to do, what I liked what I didn't like. And so that kind of led me on to becoming a research technician for a year at UCL thinking that research was what I wanted to do. And of course, it's a very Adam or pro job. But as I was doing it, I had this nagging feeling that was like, I'm just not sure this is for me. And I think if you have a feeling like that, you have to really kind of take it on board and listen to yourself. So I had that nagging feeling that you know what, let's let's give medicine a go as a graduate. So I applied I got in. And just yesterday, I found out that I've passed my final exams. So I'm officially a doctor, which is really exciting. And so really, what I wanted to say was, you know more rather, there are different points in our career where you may feel unsure as to what you want to do next. And I would encourage anyone to try and really seek opportunities that might, you know, pique their interest or see what they want to do next. So that's really kind of where I ticket. But as Emma mentioned, things had been very different for the last year. And as medical students, we took a really big hit, you know, temporarily all hospitals stopped taking us as you can imagine, but we still needed to fulfil a certain number of hours in order to graduate. So our medical school basically says, You know what, this is a situation, we want you to get out there, do what you need to do, but be safe. So I had a GP placement. And a lot of that basically basically became phone consultations, which is so tough to do, especially when you get patients saying, Oh, I have a rash. And you'll say like, oh, tell me about it. And they're like, I don't know, it's kind of big, and I'm like, wow, God I really don't know what they're talking about so it's been really adapting. And you know, what a lot of it has really stemmed upon. I'm sure all of you hate it like you know, your communication skills. How are we going to talk to our patients over the phone? How are we going to manage them more critically, patients who might not be able to access hospital normally, but now even more so. So that's been a real change in the last year, especially with GP placement and then we've had hospital placement too. And a lot of our electives have been cancelled, so mine got pushed back a year or not year, sorry, a month more rather. And so because I've had so much free time now. I've actually been working as a vaccinator in North London as part of the mass vaccination programme, and that's been really exciting. Just seeing a lot of patients come in through the door, of course, everything's really safe, where we're tested every day to make sure that no harm comes to us as well. Part of the job being in a front lining position. So it's just been a really great experience. And I think if anyone wants to explore the medical sector, you know, even starting as a volunteer would be a really good starting point to see if this is something you want to do. And then obviously, talking to people, so if anyone wants to send me an email, then of course, feel free. And I just wanted to show one thing before I left, which was probably the highlight of my vaccinating. Oh, you're going to have to give me one second.

Nikki Baxter  15:40

That's fine. Don't worry, please.

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  15:43

Okay, so as part of the vaccination, we had Sadiq Khan, come join our vaccination site, which was the Morris house group practice in North London. So he came said, Hi, he spoke to a lot of our staff. And there's me drawing up the vaccine, and then I was asked by ITV to give a really small interview, which I did. So if you go on to the Mayor of London page, you can probably find that tweet. It was a little bit embarrassing watching myself back. But I'm just really, really grateful to be part of a really exciting cause. So that's, that's essentially me. Thank you for listening, everyone.

Nikki Baxter  16:24

Lovely, thank you so much Yanja that was really, really interesting. It's It's fantastic. And well done. On getting through. That's fantastic. Was it yesterday, you found out?

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  16:34

I found out yesterday yeah.

Nikki Baxter  16:36

Yeah. Really, really good. Good news. Brilliant. Lovely. Okay. We have Dr. Amrita with us. Dr. Amrita lovely to see you. And if I could ask you to give us a an overview of your career and a little bit of career history and to let us know what you're currently doing, please. Thank you.

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  16:57

So of course, well, first of all, thank you so much for inviting me here. It's a real pleasure to be back at UCL, which is my alma mater. So it's been quite a few decades since I've been back. So thank you so much for having me. And so firstly, I suppose my career started out very, very separate from medicine, I wasn't actually planning on doing a medical degree first of all. So I started out at UCL doing a degree in Maths with Management Studies, and was very dedicated to that. I did an internship at an investment bank, sorry not an internship, I had a mentorship at an investment bank. And then much like a Yanja. I just had this feeling that this wasn't exactly what I wanted to be doing. And I had a great mentor. And he taught me a lot of ins and outs of the business. And I think I learned so much from him. But my main takeaway was, I don't think I'm in the right place. And I was very, very privileged because I had very supportive parents who understood that that maths in Management Studies wasn't probably the right fit for me. So I completed my degree, I was very lucky, I did very well at it. But I was searching for something different. And so I took a year out, I decided that medicine was the right path for me, I did all the necessary bits and pieces to get my work experience up. Luckily, I had the right A levels by some fortuitous nature, that so then I applied to do medicine, and I went over the pond over the river, should I say to kings, so I didn't come back to UCL. So I went to an alternative medical school across the south of the river. So a lot of my friends were quite upset with me that I didn't stay with my alma mater. But I thought it was important to get a varied education. And so I completed my degree, I was different to Yanja, though I didn't do the graduate entry, I did a five year entry. And the reason I did that was because my view at that point was that I didn't feel the rush, I thought that actually, by the time I finish my studies, I would be kind of in my late 20s. And that was enough time for me to be able to have a good period of time to be able to enjoy the holidays, to be able to really enjoy the elective and not really cram in the studies. So that was my perspective. Fast forward did f one f two, and during my GP training, I took maternity leaves. And the reason I'm bringing that in is because I think this is perception in medicine, that actually if you take a step off the journey, you're going to get left behind. And I'm here to say that you don't, the perception is there, the stigma is there. But if you if you want to do something, I'm a strong advocate for you need to take the journey that's right for you. And you need to do what's right for you and your life and not be concerned about What other people might say about that, as long as it's the right path for you. And so I took two maternity leaves during my GP training. So what should have been a three year training scheme took six and a half years. And the benefit for me was that I was able to really consider where I wanted to go in my life and what I wanted to do with my career. And I think general practice is a wonderful profession. And I'm really proud to be a general practitioner. But it also allowed me to explore other options as well. So I was able to complete a certification and a diploma in occupational medicine, which I think is really, really key to being a general practitioner, but it's also given me other skills as well, and being able to conduct occupational medicine clinics. And I've done a certification in acupuncture as well. So for me, holistic medicine is really important and might not be important to everybody. And the beautiful thing about medicine is that there are so many different specialties. There are so many aspects of medicine that might interest you. So there's obs and gynae, in which you might work with other allied health care professionals, there's EMT, where you might work with speech and language therapist, and it's part of being this whole spectrum of Allied healthcare professionals, which is really, really interesting. So for me, I wanted to go down the kind of holistic care route should we say, and, and really looking at people in the context of their lives as opposed to specialising in one specific area. So that led me to the different things that I did. And now the journey that I've been on has kind of positioned me as a well being specialist, should we say, and so I'm currently doing a master's in applied positive psychology and coaching psychology and I'm a wellbeing and mental fitness coach, I am a GP and clinical GP. But over the last year, I've done a lot of work with doctors before that as well. Over the last year, specifically, I've been working a lot with doctors and allied healthcare professionals to support their well being during the pandemic. And so I would say, that's kind of my journey, a very prolonged and procrastinated way of explaining my journey. But essentially, my message is, your journey is your journey. And you don't have to necessarily follow the route that medicine has carved out for you. Because training schemes are quite regimented. That might be the course that you want to take. And that's brilliant. But if you want to veer off that or if you want to carve your own path, there's as much virtue in as there's as much value in that if that's something that you want to do, just because it's the path less travelled, it doesn't make it less valuable or less beautiful. So essentially, that's all well, I wanted to impart today, essentially, that everyone's journey is as important as the other.

Nikki Baxter  22:52

Fantastic, thank you ever so much. Dr. Amrita, it's really, really interesting to hear your points and, and the career journey. And just sort of understanding as you say that everybody's career journey might be different. And so everybody's different, but that's fine. being different. Absolutely. Wonderful. Okay, so we'll just start with a few questions from myself. And then we'll go on to do some questions from students in a while. I just wanted to touch on Emma I know you mentioned you mentioned that the pandemic obviously, and Dr. Amrita mentioned it too, Doreen, I just wanted to ask you what how have you found it obviously, everybody here, you know, in sort of very frontline or dealing with people roles, how have you found the changes for yourself? I mean, it must have been a challenge.

Doreen Okyere  23:45

It's been very challenging. I think most of me just because I deal with staffing. Okay. So to cover the wards I think I can come on shift then I have only two midwives and trying to find midwives to cover patient care so work on a 32 bed postnatal Ward and two midwives are just not enough. And most of the time is because they're isolating or they've contracted the Coronavirus themselves has been quite difficult. I mean, recently, they've been redeploying some midwives to work on the ICU wards, again, providing emotional support for the midwives I've been exposed to work in it, they haven't been for a very long time. So it's been quite challenging for myself too, because I have to support my staff as well as we look after my own well being and injuries with it. So yeah, it's been it's been quite difficult. It's been quite challenging, but I'm really proud of how everyone's sort of pulled away through everyone's been looking out for each other. Everyone's just checking in on each other we're doing and the patients a lot of the patients are grateful, coming in and knowing that when we are doing our best for them, but yeah, it has been quite challenging. A lot of stress.

Nikki Baxter  24:59


Doreen Okyere  25:00

I think it's been quite good to see everyone.

Nikki Baxter  25:04

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Totally. Absolutely. Okay. And maybe I could put this question to, to the to the to the panel? And what would you say are the things that you enjoy the most about your role? And what are the what would you say the things that you find the most challenging that could go to? to any of us, any of the panel here who feel like talking about that?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  25:30

And I'll go first, if that's okay. And so the things I enjoy the most are working with people, essentially. So during the whole of the whole spectrum of my career, the thing that has really centred me, is people. And I know that might sound really trite, it might sound really like a like a really, throwaway comment. But actually, I'm really passionate about people. And that centres me and that's why I do what I do. And it doesn't have to be in in the patient facing role every day, it doesn't have to be in a colleague facing role every day, it doesn't have to be, you know, in a really conforming nature, but working with people and working in a way either whether it be in management, leadership, education, or clinical sense, and working with people and knowing that actually what you're doing is providing some benefit for people either in a small context or a larger, concentric context is really what grounds mean. So I'd say that's what I find really rewarding about my career. And the challenges, I would say, at the present moment are working in isolation, at the present moment, and I think that you get so much energy just from being in the same room as somebody, and just having somebody physical presence and just that whole generative thought that was working in offices, somebody or you know, just bouncing emails, or it takes time to send an email to somebody, it takes time to construct the email and send it in and get a reply back. And there's just a whole chain of events that occurs and that, and whereas, if you were in the same room as somebody, or if you're having a coffee with somebody, that whole generative thought just happened so naturally, and you bounce ideas off of each other. So I'd say that that's probably in the heart of one of the one of the hardest things I mean, there's a whole spectrum of trauma that's happened in the last year, which I don't want to deny or negate. But to try and take the positives out of this, that that would be one of the small hardships, I would say.

Nikki Baxter  27:35

Absolutely, totally. And really good points there. And would anybody else like to comment on that one?

Emma Louise Sinnott  27:47

I think just I have to say one of the things that I just love about my job, probably touching on what Amrita said, as well is just being part of a team, like being being around people being around patients, like the people that we work with. It just lights up my day, like do you know, just getting to do sessions with other professionals and getting to work together? It just, you form a real bond with some of the people that you're working with? They don't need to be in your immediate team like that, you know, I have a GP that I work with that I just love having to ring him like it just makes my day if I have to have a chat with him. So that really makes it really awesome. Yeah, and I also actually probably would mirror the similar challenges is that like, that has been taken away from us a lot at the moment. So I, on one hand, I'm so excited when I get to do a bit of joint working and equally, I'm super sad. I don't get to see people, you know, it really takes a lot of your energy and having to do this all day, particularly if you're running like a video clinic. Doing this all day is really draining. Yeah. So yeah.

Nikki Baxter  28:55

How do you how do you manage that Emma? How do you?

Emma Louise Sinnott  28:59

Well I've been doing a lot of vocal hygiene lessons with my entire team, like teaching everyone how to look after your voice properly. But it's just been like taking 15 minutes to go into yoga. Like literally, I'll just like, I've got really good at dictating my notes now into my phone, and I just walk away then. And I'll just do yoga for 15 minutes. I constantly have water beside me so that my throat doesn't give out. And sometimes I'll just schedule a call. I could send an email, but you know what, I'm just going to call just so I can have a chat with someone just kind of feeling a bit more human and normal and connected. Yeah.

Nikki Baxter  29:38

Absolutely. Dr Amrita how do you manage that as well? Sorry I should have put that to you before? How do you feel?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  29:48

My keyboard was a bit sticky. So I was trying to unmute. Yeah, that's that's a really good point. How do I manage and so I'm not gonna lie. I find it very What How should I say this? So I'm multitasking a lot at the moment. And I'm homeschooling, I'm working from home and working abroad. So I think it's much more difficult to preserve activities like that. But I would say that I do try to, and I say that I definitely do at the end of the day, so I have to have not have to, but I can do it when the quiet when the house is quiet when I know that there are people who are sick, who are asleep. And I know that I'm not going to be disturbed. And that's and I'm able to do that, because otherwise, and there's just no point because when you ask for time, to not be disturbed, you know that that's exactly when you're going to be disturbed. So even if you put a note on the door that says, Do Not Disturb, you know that there's going to be a little rap at the door that says, Can I have your attention at this moment in time. So for me, it's always kind of at the end of the day, and it's just kind of a way to wind down whether it be reading a couple of quotes, reading a mindfulness book, or just chatting to a loved one. I just tried to find a way to wind down at the end of the day. But I think it's really important to what I've always said, it's really important to find your own way to do that. Mindfulness might not work for everybody. breathing techniques, vocal techniques might not work for everybody yoga might not work for everybody. And you have to find what works for you and what what fits you and your routine. But I think what I will say is trial and error, just try keep trying keep thinking, actually, if this doesn't fit with you, and you don't feel that this is giving you any rest and recuperation, just try something different. And that keep going until you find what works for you, in essence is what I'm trying to say.

Nikki Baxter  31:41

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. So let me put this to everybody. Thinking back, perhaps when you first started Dr. Amrita, perhaps Doreen as well. And Emma, what would you say would be the sort of key insights sort of transferable skills thinking back, you know, what key sort of thoughts would you put forward from perhaps study and going into into your careers?

Emma Louise Sinnott  32:11

Understanding when I qualified, what empathy really meant. And it's been a really, I think this is something that we learn as healthcare professionals to really draw lines around because you got into health care, because you really want to help people and you want to, you know, do good things. And you get this real spectrum of too much empathy is not good. Because you get so drawn into people's lives, and you feel so bad for them, you feel so sad for the people see us when there's something wrong. So you have to be empathy, you know, there's going to be something there. And then the flip side of that is you can't have no empathy, because people will think you're horrible and a robot, you can't just like, you know, shoot things down. And so, for me, if I could kind of give advice to anyone going into it, to know that that is always going to be a bit of a thing is like knowing how much empathy you need and what an integral part of being a healthcare professional it is, and how you have to look after your own mental health from that respect. And finding that balance of empathy is, is really important. I think, just for me, particularly, I worked with palliative people for a long time. And that really, that one caught me off guard for a long time. But yeah, empathy. Totally key.

Nikki Baxter  33:30

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely Sure of that.

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  33:33

To jump in here. If you don't mind. I was being quiet before because I was I was aware that I had the last answer. So I didn't want to

Nikki Baxter  33:41

Don't worry. No, that's absolutely fine.

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  33:43

So I think I might, I might say something that's quite disparate to what Emma said, I don't think you can have enough empathy. In medicine, and in allied healthcare professions. I think that empathy is something that's really, really key in our profession. And I think that that's what allows us to connect with our patients that allows us to connect with our ability to be good health care professionals to provide care, compassion, and support to people. I think what we need to do as human beings is draw boundaries around where we understand where our role finishes, as a professional person, and where the line begins as a personal entity. And so having a personal entity and a personal identity and a professional identity is really, really important and having safeguards in place to boundary those is really key. And at times, they might slip, at times you might be giving part of your personal self to a patient and I don't think and the reason I say this because I've reflected on this a lot over my profession. I don't think this is a I don't think this is the right answer. I think this is the answer for me. And as I said, this isn't to contradict Emma, because that's Emma's answer. And that's right for Emma, and Doreen will have a different answer, and Yanja will have a different answer for her. For me, this is this is just what's right for my journey. And so I believe that we need to be I need to be boundaried in my personal and professional identity in order to in order to protect myself so that I'm giving a lot to my patients, but I'm not taking a lot home, if that makes sense. So I'm protecting myself and I'm protecting my family, I'm protecting my loved ones from the burden that that might give me and that's why you have to have good protection mechanisms in place, you have to understand what works for you how you support your own mental health, how you support your emotional health, and your psychological health as well. Because these are all three separate entities, I think we quite often lump these things together, we lump wellbeing together as a well being synonymous with mental health. It is not, these are all separate entities. And our physical health is so different, and they're all intertwined. They're all related, because they're all parts of us, but they are different entities. And I think the more time we spend with ourselves, the more we connect with ourselves, the more we reflect on ourselves, our professional practice our personal being, the more we learn about ourselves, and what we need and what we need to grow, blah, blah, blah. But the point is, for me is that actually, I don't think there is too much empathy. I think that's what makes us really good healthcare professionals, I think what needs to be done is understanding where we draw the lines and where we draw the boundaries and how we protect ourselves from that. And if there is a balance in or if the balance tips the wrong way, where you feel that you're actually not coping because you are too empathic, and you just need to kind of up your safety mechanisms, and the support that you have, and maybe take time out from clinical practice in order to try to recuperate. I hope that's helpful for anybody out there.

Nikki Baxter  36:57

Thank you so much. Dr. Amrita, it's really interesting how you're talking about boundaries. I found that fascinating. So thank you very much. And Yanja. Would you feel that you have any thoughts on on that?

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  37:12

Yeah I was just going to say, whilst I've haven't started my career, and I am a student, I think the biggest take home message that I've learnt in the last 12 months has been to be adaptable. All of us have had to adapt in different ways in different shapes and forms to our job roles. Even even whether that's your personal life or your work life. And I think whilst you may not think you are adaptable, when push comes to shove, I think being able to adapt is a real important skill that all of us can take away from being a student too, then hopefully what I can say, Oh, I am adaptable in when I, you know, fully start qualifying or working in August. And I think that's really important. You know, if even if someone says to you, okay, can you, do you know how to work a computer system, can you come help me, book these patients in and you say, yeah, sure, absolutely. Fantastic. I'll be there. I think being able to know that sometimes your roles can change. In order to be able to support the team, I think that's really important. So if you can put yourself in a position where that's possible. I think that's really good.

Doreen Okyere  38:15

And I would just like to add being, communication, and being honest, I think we often forget how important communication is sometimes just as simple as going back to a patient explaining something to them in a way where they can understand or if you're completely busy, just say, Look, I know you're waiting, I'm really sorry, this is what I'm doing and is what we're trying to get things in place. But often times we forget to communicate back to patients and just say, you know, we're here, I hear you, I'm doing something, it's taking a while, but, you know, you're still on my mind. And just being honest with patients too. I've learned that in my role as a manager that you have to be honest, and patients do appreciate the honesty even if it's not what they want to hear. They do appreciate us being honest with them. I mean, just the last point before, Dr. Amara, is it Amrita, said about empathy. And I think I learned that the hard way. When I was nearly called a newly qualified as a midwife, and a mum experienced a loss. And remember someone saying to me, you're not allowed to cry. And I said, Why can't I cry? Because this is quite emotional. I remember, just shedding a tear and the mum said, I'm so glad you know you felt almost that you felt that pain I did, it shows me that you really did care. So I think it's just knowing their boundaries, but it's okay to cry. Sometimes things happen. So you can't ever show too much empathy just knowing when to draw the line.

Nikki Baxter  39:41

Wow Doreen that, that's, that's, that's amazing. That must have been such a, I don't even know how to explain that. Actually. Words are not coming out of my mouth. But I'd say that that must have been quite an experience for you. So thank you so much for sharing something so private. Okay. As you touched on it a moment ago, actually, Doreen a sort of communicating with patients, how do you? Do you have to manage patient expectations? Do you find that something? Do they expect a lot, and then you sort of touched on it a little bit. But would you say that you have to do that on a regular basis, reflecting back on your career?

Doreen Okyere  40:24

In the last, so much more in the last year and a bit in my current role. So part of my role deals with patient complaints a lot, especially on the postnatal Ward because mums, most of them, they have a really nice one to one experience on the labour ward. And then they come up to the postnatal Ward where they may have to share a bed, I mean a room with other women, or they're expected to be out of the hospital a certain time, or baby's not feeding as they expected babies to or, you know, the baby has not wee'd or pooed in the time they wanted to. So yeah, I've had some manage patient expectations a lot. And I did struggle with it to begin with, because I kind of had my midwife on rather than also thinking about the patients. And what did we fail in terms of communicating with them that, you know, as you're coming to the postnatal ward of a completely different to the antenatal period or the labour ward, one midwife will be sharing with eight other people. So really give them that communicating that your your midwife is shared among different people, you won't get that one on one care as you wanted to. And also just been as empathetic as I can, with your expectations, as well as supporting my colleagues know, on what's happened, what's happened on the wards. So yeah, there's a lot of patient expectations. But yeah.

Nikki Baxter  41:44

And perhaps it's changed a little bit over this year, I don't know, how has it been?

Doreen Okyere  41:51

I think it's a lot worse, because patients don't want to stay in hospital anymore. So the expectation is, there's a pandemic, I need to go home, whereas in Yes, there's a pandemic, but you're not well, or your baby is not fit to go home, I think there is a we've had a lot more complaints during the pandemic than before. And again, is all down to communications and meeting patient expectations. And just helping them understand that if this was any other time, yes, we'll be happy to send you home because I can meet a midwife can see you. But now they're stretched thin, because you know, the visits are not as frequent. You being here means you get the more support that you've been at home. So yeah, is a lot more expectation.

Nikki Baxter  42:32

Yeah, absolutely. I can understand that. Definitely. Emma, any any thoughts on the managing patient expectations?

Emma Louise Sinnott  42:40

Yeah, it's, it's been really interesting, like, I currently work in it a stroke team. So stroke on the acquired brain injury team and with stroke, and people who've had strokes, there's very much this expectation that they will often get better, much quick, more quickly in the first sort of 12 weeks of their care of their recovery. And so people want you in their house all the time every day, you know, and with the pandemic, primarily, a, that has been tricky, because obviously, you're trying to sort this out online, they're not set up for that they don't, their friends and neighbours can't come around to help with that either. And also things like if you're somebody who needs like a physio, and an OT, and a psychologist, and a speech therapist, and a GP, all to be seeing you in a week, whilst you might want to see all those people every day, you physically won't be, you're too tired, you're just not able to deal with that amount of people. And it's really fascinating to watch people who come out and they're like, I'm so ready for this, I'm going to do my rehab every day. And after about a week and a half. And they're like, Yeah, no, if you don't come tomorrow, like that's fine. So it's been a really, it's, it's interesting, I think, in this space that I work in at the moment, the patient expectations and family expectations, that's a bigger part of it for me, as well, as, you know, family wants certain things from you. And, and so now you just have to be really realistic with them. But I have to say it has been a little chip I've been able to use in terms of encouraging more virtual working, if I say to people, if you can get online, I can see you more often because I don't have to travel to your house. And they're like, oh, I'll just see if my son can put me on his, you know, phone-a-magig. And I'm like, Yeah, great. So yeah, there are expectations, but I think you just have to be exactly what Doreen said, you have to be honest with people and say, Look, in the light of the current situation we're in, these are the tools that I have to work with. And I'm so happy to share them with you. But this is all I have. And just kind of go on with that. Because exactly, it's you know, we know the hospitals are under pressure, we're under pressure. The patients are under pressure there. Everyone is under pressure. So you get this very amplified level of expectation. But also then people are like you guys are working so hard and you just take time and we wish we could give you a cup of tea and we can't We're really sorry. So people have been really amazing as well this year, I have to say, I've felt really touched and just the odd person being like, thank you so much. It's just like you leave and you're like, Oh, my God, this is the best day ever. So, yeah.

Nikki Baxter  45:18

Yeah. Like, and that goes back to comments about just wanting to work with people. I think Dr. Amrita is, you know, just really enjoying working with people. And yeah, Yanja, I wanted to ask you, have there been any expectations? As you've been doing the your the vaccination? Has anybody expected something? Or is everybody been sort of following it as they should? Generally.

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  45:42

You get a whole bunch of different types of people, you know on one spectrum, there are patients who are so thankful to, to be receiving the vaccine. And on the other hand, you get people saying, Oh, I think this is a this is a conspiracy theory. And in my head, I'm thinking, Well, why are you sat on my chair then? You know, I think it really does swing both ways. And ultimately, because we've got two approved vaccines in the UK, sometimes we'll have a patient walking in, they'll say, absolutely. Today, I'm receiving the AstraZeneca. And you're like, Well, actually, unfortunately, you don't get a choice. And then you're in this kind of like, moral dilemma between, okay, you're 80 years old? Do I really let you go because you don't want the other one. But really, you should be vaccinated because of your age. So I think it's brought about a whole different kind of kettle of fish of how we manage these patients who A want one thing, and B they're not gonna have, you know, basically get what they want. But really, we know they should be vaccinated. So it's been a real fine line between trying to manoeuvre these patients who are somewhat difficult in that respect, because I'd say the 90/98% of patients are so happy to receive it. The 2% are questionable. And they'll really kind of make your morals question because you don't want to be rude as well. But equally, you really do question that their thinking behind it. So it's been very interesting.

Nikki Baxter  47:06

Absolutely, I'm sure to start, I was thinking, if you could Dr. Amrita, if I could ask you? And can you perhaps remember the time when you first started in your career? And just talk us through a little bit about how you found that experience? Your first role? How you found the whole experience of actually getting the job? was it? Was it tough? Was it very competitive? How did you find it?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  47:35

So are you talking as an f1 Doctor, or are you talking as a qualified GP?

Nikki Baxter  47:40

f1 Doctor, and then perhaps as your thoughts as a GP?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  47:44

Sure Okay. So as an f1, Doctor, it's a very strange process. I don't know how it works anymore, as in I have a vague idea, but it's a, it's a bit of a different process. And now, but essentially, you do your exams. And depending on how well you do, depending on where you rank, you do your foundation application form, and you place your hospitals. And you get ranked according to how well you do. And that's literally it. There's no interview, there's no you know, what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Does this hospital fit you and your desires for your future career? Would you be a good fit for you know, just, there's nothing like that at all. It's mapping basically. And so you could have had a really bad couple of days when you're sitting your final exams. And you could have had a terrible event, you could have had a bereavement, you could have had, you know, really sad news, and not, unfortunately, fulfil your potential, and your academic potential. I mean, because there are lots of different potentials, and your academic potential in your exams. And unfortunately, therefore, that maps out where you're going to go for your foundation years. And so it's a really tricky process. And I was lucky, I was very lucky. I got, I got my first choice job, my first choice hospital, and a lot of my friends didn't and that was heartbreaking for me to see, I you know, I'm a very empathetic person. So for me, I feel other people's difficulties. So for me, that was heartbreaking to see my friends, my colleagues, those who I've seen struggle, you know, going through medical school, it's difficult. It's a difficult five years like like any vocational training is, or professional training, should I say is it you know, it's a hard slog and seeing people who you have developed a professional relationship with over five years not get what they deserve, and isn't very fair. Yes, it isn't very easy. So that would be foundation. Yanja would be able to, Yanja sorry, will be able to tell us whether it's changed much. I don't think it has changed much. But I think that that's the process that we're in at the moment. I think there's there's a lot of talk about change and or to talk about differential attainment in medicine, and how we can minimise the differences between cohorts and how we can widen participation. As these conversations need to be at the forefront of our minds, at the forefront of every agenda, we need to be breaking down these barriers, increasing participation, from all cohorts from all all communities, and from all educational backgrounds. I'm a strong advocate for that. But it's just it takes it takes decades to turn an oil tanker.

Nikki Baxter  50:43

Yeah, of course, fair enough. So that was your experiences there. And so as a GP?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  50:50

that as a GP things are very different. It depends on where you want to go, what you want to do, whether you want to be a portfolio GP like I am, or if you want to go straight into partnership. So for me, I have really very much taken the road untravelled. I don't really know many people who've done what, I don't know anyone who's done exactly what I've done. And I don't know anyone who has kind of done things in a bit of an odd, mismatched way. And every time people ask me, what's your plan? I said, don't have one. And it's generally I genuinely mean that I don't have a plan. And I don't mean that in a way that I am not ambitious, or I'm not. And I'm not particularly ambitious. I don't mean ambitious in terms of, you know, evidently, I don't have a plan. So one might think that that means I'm not ambitious. But I genuinely do things because I love to do them. And I know that sounds really funny. It's like you can't go through your life just doing things because you love to do them. But I really do. And I think that if you build your career around the things that you love to do, then work isn't work it's play. And I really think that that that would again, be my message to students. Nobody really told me this at the beginning. And I suppose you know, I'm sitting here with a smile on my face, because I learned the hard way. But one thing that my dad always said that I was in my first year of medical school, my father passed away. And that was the biggest loss to me. And but the lessons that, you know, he taught me and the conversations that we had, I think about every day, and he was such a positive influence in my life that really, I just think life is so short, you really have to make about what you can. And so why should I spend time doing something that doesn't bring me joy and happiness? When we don't, you know, when? When I was 23, and my father passed away. So that's how I see things. And you know, I've just built a career around the things that I love. So yes, it's been very hard. Yes, it's been gruelling. Yes. People have asked me and questioned me, why are you doing this? Why have you taken that decision? What's your plan? And it's hard when when you say I don't have one? It's hard. Because then you question yourself, you think should I have a plan? I'm not sure. Should I go back to the drawing board? You think, oh, let me devise a plan. And not No, no, I don't want to do that. So stick to your guns, stick to your goals, understand your principles and values. And don't let anyone else shake that is what I would say. Sorry, a very convoluted answer, again, to your very simple question.

Nikki Baxter  53:13

That's fine. That's absolutely fine. It's some really insightful wise words. So thank you so much, Dr. Amrita. Yanja, do you think you could perhaps, talk us through perhaps your experiences so far, with regards to going in, you know, as Dr. Amrita was commenting on the processes, within the medical field of applied?

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  53:39

Of course. I think everyone's top priority is to get into med school, but no one really tells you what it's like during med school. And then after med school. And as Dr. Amrita was saying, we have this really convoluted application form, which you do in your final year. And basically, it's to ensure that different people have different academic achievements are sent all across the country. And it's actually been, I wish someone had also told me at the beginning of my medical degree that actually, when you get to final year, you really may not be where you want to be in terms of location, in terms of what kind of jobs are going to do for the next two years. So I think it's just been really interesting, and especially having people in the few years above me who did it, you know, it's just been, it's I think I was slightly better suited, because I'd have a lot of senior input from people who've done it the year or two years before me. And I think having that kind of senior support is really interesting, because then you can kind of navigate your way around what they thought was best or their mistakes that have been made. But I think medicine is is just in a really very different to all other professions, especially the way the application process works. And so I think, yeah, I just think having someone who's done it before you is probably the best way to navigate medicine. I think doing it alone completely is quite tough.

Nikki Baxter  55:01

Would you advise students to sort of get in touch with perhaps UCL alumni? Or perhaps reaching out to other friends that might be in there slightly higher?

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  55:15

Yeah, definitely, in terms of what studying medicine is like, then what, you know, being in medicine in the future like Dr Amrita, because really, I can say what I can say. But I don't know what the future holds for me. I don't know where I I don't know where I'll end up. I find out in March. So I hope I get my first choice. So yeah, it's just I think, definitely getting true honest experience of what it's like, none of this. You know, I think medicine is amazing. But whilst it is, what are the hardships? You know, how did you struggle? Where did you find it difficult? And I think just being able to, frankly, talk to people about it is the best way to see if, if that's for you really?

Nikki Baxter  55:52

Definitely, absolutely. Thank you ever so much. Emma, what was it like for you when you first started, or you applied for a role within your job now?

Emma Louise Sinnott  56:04

I actually got my first job off LinkedIn. It's where my first job came from, um, because like that I had, I'd had this knee surgery, so I couldn't work for my first bit. So I spent a lot of time putting together my like LinkedIn profile and like doing all this other stuff. And the way you get a job as a allied health professional typically is Saturday's interviews. And they do banding so you have band five job is what you get when you graduate. And there's an NHS jobs portal, and that's typically where you got a job. But this woman who had set up her own private speech therapy company, was like, I really liked the look of your CV. I am looking to recruit a new band five, like, would you be interested? I was like, Yes. And so I interviewed for that. She put me through my paces. I will say private practice was I think I what's the word? Like I deep ended it but I slammed I did quite well for it. But it was a really tough job for a couple of years. But I I wasn't unsupported. But it was a tricky post. So yeah, so my first job came from LinkedIn, and I, yeah, it was, it was great. But after that I had worked on I kind of thought I'd done community and outpatients and things and I really wanted to get to grips with the hospitals. So then I then applied to the Royal London, and got a band six role there. And then I suppose just to say, as well in allied health professionals, particularly physio and OT, sometimes in dietetics. And we they do rotations. So you will rotate through lots of different specialities. In speech therapy, we are really bad at doing that. So my career has had lots of I have just effectively rotated myself. So I will do like a year somewhere, I'll take like a maternity leave or do something like that. And it was such a good way for me to build up my skills really quickly. Because I then went on to take a band seven role much sooner than a lot of people that I graduated with, because I was good. And I you know, I went for it. That was the other that would be my other piece of advice. Just go for it. Just see what happens. Just you know, take the opportunities when they arise, because a friend did point out to me at the time when I got my first search, so you sure you want to trust someone who like offers you a job randomly off LinkedIn? I was like, you know, I took it, and it worked out well. So yeah, so I think my advice would be to just yeah, take those opportunities when they come because you just have no idea where they are going to take you. Yeah.

Nikki Baxter  58:37

And was it a difficult interview? Do you remember? Oh, was it?

Emma Louise Sinnott  58:41

Yeah, it was, she, most if I was interviewing a band five now we would anticipate takes about 40 minutes. I'm pretty sure I was in that room for an hour and a half. It was. Yeah, it was intense. But she held things through very high standards. But I would also say, I've been very lucky. With interviewing, I haven't not got an interview, which has been really awesome. But having been on both sides of the panel, I think it's really good to do interviews, because I just think they do build up your, A your resilience. So if you get told No, that's okay. And you can work on that and get feedback. But also, again, yeah, you just get more used to it, you get less afraid of the people on the other side of the table. So like, most people do interviews and don't get them and that's, that's absolutely fine. You learn a lot and always ask for feedback. I think that's something that we're a bit afraid to do but always ask for feedback. Doreen is nodding at me furiously, I can see. Yeah, so I don't know, Doreen, if you have any feedback on an interview?

Doreen Okyere  59:46

Yeah, I think the first band seven post I applied for at royal London. I think they say just to practice a bit more on managing onboard for my next interview and I've got the job so yeah, definitely. Also Feedback helps yeah.

Nikki Baxter  1:00:02

Thank you. Doreen was your first interview? When you remember, after graduating? How did you find that? How was the process?

Doreen Okyere  1:00:11

It was, it was quite hard. So with midwives and nurses, we usually, you apply for your job in your final year of training. So when you're about six months to qualifying when you usually start applying for jobs in London in some hospitals, so where I trained at Kingston University, there's five different hospitals that we have our placements in. So they're usually the five that you apply for a job for. So to begin with. So if you're a student in one of those hospitals, you're more likely to get an interview for those hospitals. So I got an interview for Kingston. I thought, yep, I've made it but you have to do a maths and English test first. If you don't get more than 50%, you don't get an interview. So I was really nervous. So yeah, I did my master English test, then you go on to do the panel interview, they asked you why you want to work there. And it could take about 40 minutes. And you feel like, you know, I work with you guys. You know me already. But yeah, you kind of have to sell yourself that. You definitely want to work there. I think as you want to progress in your career. They're all required. So you might work at a place for five years, and you won't get the job. So yeah, it's about preparing yourself and building yourself up in your career.

Nikki Baxter  1:01:28

Absolutely. Thank you so much Doreen. And you know, all some really, really great tips here. Fascinating. And I don't think anybody likes interviews, and I don't think anyone really loves them. But I'd echo what Emma says, and I think it's it's it's important to sort of practice them. And if students are concerned or want to, you know, get some great tips and helps obviously, please do contact us at UCL careers, because we can help you with that. Absolutely. So just to let you know, we'll have one more question, and then we'll go to a few questions from the students. I know Dr. Amrita has to leave us shortly. So if any students have got any thoughts for Dr. Amrita, please get them ready. So I think we'll just do one more question. And then we'll go straight to the students. Financial pressures are always talked about, with regards to healthcare, NHS, for example, would you say that there's a lot of constraint within your roles? Emma, would you say that that? Is that sort of always you mentioned London's money, perhaps only come out of out of London? Not so much.

Emma Louise Sinnott  1:02:32

Yeah, it's, it's, it's a tricky one, because like that having worked in the private sector as well. So I think that was a good comparison. So. And like when I worked in the private sector, I had a 2000 pound training budget, just straight like that was just, you're just given that like, that wasn't even questioned. And then should you want any further training on top of that, you could ask for it. We all had our own laptops, we had access to iPads, we had all this sort of stuff. Whereas in most of my NHS jobs, if I want a study day, I have to really have a chat with my manager about whether or not I'm allowed the time off to attend that study day. And whether or not it integrates into, we have like PDR is like the personal development programmes for the year, I have to really argue that it is going to fit into that in some way. So there's, there's a definite, it is a constraint to some respect. And then also know working in in Wales and living here, I noticed that even more because I previously used to work for a central London community health care, trust, that's a big trust, and they get a lot of funding, because you've got like Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster are in that borough in those in that trust. And so again, we had resources. And you know, that's the same team that I had to argue for study days with. We had our own laptops, we had our own smartphones, we had all those things. Here, like I said, there are six laptops for 18 of us. And that just, you have to work around it. And it's Yeah, it's it's tricky, because I think for me, I'm coming to that point now where my next upward movement is into either management or towards a more clinical academic career. I'm leaning towards the latter. But I do see it more now. I just see how much like if we lose a member of staff, do we take that money to fund that member of staff? Or do we put it into something else? You know, it's, it is there. And the more I'm into sort of service provision and service management, you start to really notice like, Oh, actually, the pot is only this big. And there you know, we do have a question around do we tell people how much their care costs? This is something that comes up sometimes for like missed appointments and things like that, but I I'm not sure actually how I feel about that. But it's worth recognising. You know, there is financial stress there. It doesn't affect my day too much because of the job I have in fairness, but it's, it's there, you know?

Nikki Baxter  1:05:12

Yeah. Okay, so that was that was amazing. Thank you so much for all your wonderful insight there. I've opened up for students to be able to ask questions. For Dr. Amrita, can you recommend opportunities, extra curricular activities, that can help students find ways to support positive psychology and wellbeing in or outside of the medical community?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  1:05:38

Oh, that's a really good question. Okay, so there are loads of positive psychology resources. The first thing I would say is look at Martin Seligman. So Martin Seligman, that's s, e, l, i, g, m, a, n. So he's essentially the father of positive psychology. And he has done a lot of work over the last three decades around positive psychology, what it is exactly why it's important and how we can use it to help us grow, essentially, and how it helps us be happier, better, brighter human beings. And so the first thing I'd do is direct you to him. He has a wealth of resources on his website, and also, just learning about him is really interesting. And learning about the theories that he's founded. And the research behind those theories is really interesting, too. And then a few kind of other key people off there, I would say, look at Robert Biswas Diener. So that's b i s w a s. And then Diener is hyphen d, i, e, n, e, r. or Kristin, Kristin Neff has done a lot of work around not positive psychology, that things like empathy and compassion in clinical work, specifically. So I would say if you're interested in those types of fields, specifically, look them up.

Nikki Baxter  1:07:01


Amrita Sen Mukherjee  1:07:02

You have my details, so if you wanted to get in contact with me, you can contact the Careers Service, and they can kind of get in touch with me through that way. If that's okay.

Nikki Baxter  1:07:13

Yeah, I'll share my email. And then I can take some queries for you Dr Amrita. Absolutely. And I've got a question here. Thank you for your talk, Dr Amrita and Yanja. I wonder what made you pick your medical speciality, and any tips for current medical students on how to decide?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  1:07:32

Okay, so I was one of those people who so if I knew my husband, when I was at university, I would not have married him. And the reason I say that is because I was the person in the front row. And he was the person at the back throwing things at the people at the front. And I was one of those people who's always like having my hand up and asking questions and getting immersed and everything. So what I would say is that when I was at medical school, I immersed and I know that it's a really different situation now. So I'm really sorry that this is just my experience, I immersed myself in every rotation that I was in, I spoke to consultants, I networked, I just spoke to people all the time, I was just like the sponge wanting to learn all the time. And I suppose that was how I collected all the information that I needed to decide whether I wanted to go into one specialty or not. And the other thing that I had the advantage around was the fact that I've come from a medical background. So both of my parents were doctors, and my father was a GP. So I grew up around a general practice, I was the village doctor's daughter. So I always knew essentially, that that would be my home and I would come back full circle. But I wanted to try and keep my horizons open. So essentially, for me, that was my journey. But I would say that, keep your options open, be like a sponge, try to learn from everybody, everything is a learning opportunities. I go back to my original point where I said, when I had my mentor ship at the investment bank, that was brilliant, brilliant experience. I learned a lot from that gentleman who was my mentor. But one thing I took away was I don't want to do this. So even if it is taking away that that isn't right for you. That's your takeaway.

Nikki Baxter  1:09:10

So essentially, just giving it a go, giving it a try, can clarify what you do like and what you don't.

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  1:09:17

Much more succinct. Yes.

Nikki Baxter  1:09:20

Okay, thank you so much. Dr. Amrita, I really appreciate it. I think you have to, I think you're signing off shortly, aren't you?

Amrita Sen Mukherjee  1:09:26

I am. I'm very, I do apologise. I'm sorry that I was late in today. And I'm sorry that I'm leaving. I suppose this is the nature of the pandemic and we will have to learn to be flexible with one another so thank you UCL.

Nikki Baxter  1:09:41

And obviously, any any questions to yourself. I'll share my email address with the students so they can I can send it to them. Okay, thank you so much Dr Amrita. Okay, so, with the rest of the questions, I've got a few here but as students should be able to I know one student said they wanted to try and unmute themselves, but they couldn't. But do try now, if you like, and hopefully that should be okay for you. But if whilst we're waiting, just I've got one here. This may be a tough question. But do you find it hard to balance your work life balance, and I've got here as an, I think, being empathetic with a strong family connection, it is a concern, I'd struggle to prioritise that connection for myself when connected to people. So I think we'll take the first one first, do you find it hard to balance your work life? Doreen do you find it hard? I might take that one to you.

Doreen Okyere  1:10:44

I think initially, I did. When I first started working, I'm quite family oriented so I'm quite close to know my family, and lived at home for a long time. But I do like diaries, I like to schedule in my work time, and personal time. And going out time I think that's really important to do. So I do in a week is when I used to do shift work. I work three days a week, I know there's my three days dedicated to work on my schedule, maybe one day a week with a family and have a day to myself. So no phone calls, nothing with anyone just a day to yourself to reflect and just recuperate if it's in bed, if it's watching movies. I chose that one day for myself. And I try to schedule in time as with other friends and kind of family members, maybe every two weeks, we'll go out and do something different. I know it's different with a pandemic. But you can try maybe with zoom calls, zoom quizzes, but do take time every week and just create a timetable for yourself. So you know what you're doing each week. I think it's okay. Sometimes if you've had a hard day to say, Look, I've had a really hard day, I just need a few minutes to myself or just a few hours, or just this evening to myself alone. I think Don't be afraid to speak your phone number what you're going through and just say it's been a hard day Just give me a few moments to myself. But yeah, do scheduling fun times. My mom will tell you I know how to treat myself. So yeah, just a week, at least just for you, just to sort of recuperate in the week that you've had. That's my advice.

Nikki Baxter  1:12:17

Fantastic. That's really good. Um, I've got a question here from student, I'm doing a psychology degree. I'm graduating this year, I want to see what the job is like before committing to a Master's programme. Is it possible to get a speech and language therapy assistant job with my degree? If so, could you give me any tips about what would help me get this job? So I presume we're directing that one to Emma.

Emma Louise Sinnott  1:12:49

No, um, you can get it it is possible to get a speech and language therapy assistant job. It depends some places will be like speech therapy only. So they those jobs do exist, you can easily get it like a rehabilitation assistant role. And depending on on what you kind of want to do, they're sort of nice, because you get to see like, you could be assistant to psychology, to OT, to physio, to speech. And so if you're just looking to get a bit of a taste of sort of allied health professionals, a rehab assistant job's quite nice. But they do definitely have speech therapy only assistant jobs, and they're really good for college for university applications to becoming a speech therapist, they really, if they see that on there, it's a really big plus for that. And also anything that is involved with like volunteering with like the Stroke Association, or they're are lots of children's charities that work with children from lots of different backgrounds, or who have like autism or delayed upbringings, and like lots and lots of different things that you can do. So equally, I'm super happy to share any of my details if anyone wants to just have a chat around what that might look like, or any help or any sort of applications for jobs or anything. I'm super happy to help with that.

Nikki Baxter  1:14:08

Lovely, that's very kind of you. Thank you so much. So I've got a question for Doreen here. And Doreen, thank you so much for your really helpful insight into midwifery. I'm just curious to learn a little more about the interview process and type of work experience I can get before applying for the course. I'm currently a psychology undergraduate student, but I'm hoping to take a Master's pre registration course once I graduate. Any tips or thoughts of where this student could possibly go towards?

Doreen Okyere  1:14:40

I would probably say Have a look around your local hospitals and just make contact with their practice Education team. They usually put that maybe organising students to come in for work experience, or just do a day to shadow midwives or doctors on board. Again, I'm not sure how quickly they respond with the pandemic going on but I think it's worth a try. In terms of interviews, I think like Emma, I'm happy for you to get in contact with me. So we can go through some tips. There's a calculation book that I use that I recommend to all students that come in contact with, because you have to do a maths and English test for every interview, even once you've gone through the course and you're applying for a job. So yeah, I'm more than happy to have that with you. And depending on where you live, again, I can ask, my practice educator team, if they have anything going on. So I can also try and support you with that, if I can.

Nikki Baxter  1:15:38

That's really kind. Thank you so much. And where would you Where would you suggest that they look, because you said contact your local hospitals. But I imagine that it can't be easy at the moment walk around?

Doreen Okyere  1:15:50

The best thing would to do is probably maybe just call maybe like the level team and see if they can get you to go to the same Maternity Education team, PDM, they usually call, in that's the best way because if you try and go through the main hospital, they might not be able to direct you so if you can't get through to labour ward then maybe try the switchboard for the hospital and ask for maternity unit. And hopefully someone there can maybe support you with that.

Nikki Baxter  1:16:15

Lovely, thank you ever so much during question for Yanja. I'm planning on taking a year out after my degree, and I'm really considering applying to graduate medicine degree. And I wanted to know if there were any things I could, sorry anything I could do to get the feel of the career. Hospital placements are quite hard because the pandemic, unfortunately, my background is in public health. Any thoughts on that one?

Yanja Chuluunbaatar  1:16:45

Yeah. Yeah, they are right. I think places are really tough because of the pandemic. And they don't want any extra kind of people coming to the hospital than necessary. So I'd say my biggest advice at the moment is if you can, and it's possible for you to join a bank staff so that you can potentially work as a health care professional. So that way you are paid for something that's within the hospital setting, or even a general practice, but you're still able to really learn from something. And a lot of the times when it comes to applying for medicine and your personal statement and interview, you know, they don't really want to know, say per se what you've done and how long you've done it for but really what you've taken away from it. So you know, it doesn't really matter that you've worked as an EC HCA or whether you've volunteered, I think as long as you're able to get something. But for the moment, I do know that the pandemic needs a lot of bank staff. They're called what they're called turning teams. So you often turn patients around and I think that could be a really good starting point. So I know for example, all the big trusts in London are currently hiring so such as Guys and St Thomas', Kings sites, so get in contact with them. And then that would be really good kind of, you know, quite a, quite a realistic feel for what the job will entail in the future. So I think that's a good starting point.

Nikki Baxter  1:18:00

Fantastic, lovely, thank you. Okay, I'm a postgraduate student at UCL children and adolescents mental health, and I'll be graduated in September, when do you think it's the right time to start searching for a job having in mind, I do not have any practical experience in the field yet. But any thoughts on that? From any of you?

Emma Louise Sinnott  1:18:22

I think I would say like, just as soon as really, particularly if you are someone that that has got, like anything else sort of going on in your life, like, you know, there's a pandemic going on at the moment. So everything is, or if you're someone who has got children or if you're, you know, just if you've got lots of stuff going on, I would always sort of advocate for just looking early and you know, people can be really afraid to just call it like like what Doreen has just said like just calling up the hospital it can feel really daunting, but actually that's the kind of time or like that's the way to start making these connections with people like put your name into places and you don't necessarily have to get a job right away and if that's what you're wondering, like when is a good time like maybe do like a couple of weeks experience somewhere maybe take on a temporary role like the bank stuff as well that Yanja was just talking about, like doing bits and bobs like that, but I would sort of say like, whenever you're ready to start applying for jobs, go ahead and apply for jobs.

Nikki Baxter  1:19:23

Absolutely, no, that's that's why I swear it's thank you and obviously UCL Careers we're here to help you. So if you need some help with the whole process, definitely. Okay. I think we'll wrap up with one more question. A friend is a midwife and she has also suffered effects of the lack of staffing. This put this students obviously being empathetic and supportive. Do you think there's anything in particular I can say to support her when she might be feeling burnt out? Doreen you're on mute.

Doreen Okyere  1:19:54

Sorry. I probably I would probably just say just encouraging her. She's doing a good job. That's usually quite encouraging. And we just asked her what she wants. I think sometimes we try so hard to do stuff with people, managers do what they need to just ask. So what can I do to help? Sometimes just things that take their minds off, maybe a little game. But yeah, just ask. So what is it that she really needs from you? Sometimes they don't talk about work, or just anything else outside of work, which is also is what will be helpful for you right now? Do you want to order some food? Should we watch a movie together? Just ask them what it is that they need? Because often times you know, you have a bad day, you just don't want to talk about the bad day you've had, you just want to talk about something else. So yeah.

Nikki Baxter  1:20:42

How lovely, that's really supportive. Thank you. Thank you so much to everybody. Really, really appreciate it. You've been fabulous, fabulous panel, got some real keen insights. And hopefully, I feel that the students will have had the opportunity to put some questions to you. And given you some sort of real key thoughts and tips, and you've given up your time today. And time, specially especially on the frontline is so is it's so such a small amount of time that you might have. So you know, I really, really appreciate it. everybody's busy. Everybody's juggling. So thank you. Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it. Hopefully the students have enjoyed it. Hopefully everyone's had some great insight. And I would just like to say thank you so much. And we'll end this panel now. Thanks, everybody.

Jo Budd  1:21:32

thank you all so much for listening to this episode. We hope you enjoyed the discussions around the skills and experiences needed to get into the health sector. The challenges of working on the frontline, including the impact of COVID-19 and how the panellists have adapted. Thanks again for listening, and we'll see you at the next UCL careers podcast.