The 13th episode of the Our Voices podcast provides an insight into the life of Tara, a doctor from Nepal who has been working at Watford General Hospital for the last year. Initially, Tara had no intention of being a practicing doctor: she had studied a Master’s degree in Public Health in the UK and had intended to start a career in research. However, her daughter’s illness encouraged her to take a very different direction. After taking her daughter to hospital and discovering that she was suffering from bronchiolitis, she says “Even though I was a doctor, I had no idea what was going on with my kids.” Had she been working as a practicing doctor, Tara believes that she would have had the practical knowledge to have prevented her daughter’s illness. Thus, it was her mother’s instinct which drew her back to the hospital wards.
Tara expresses enjoying the direct contact with patients that being a doctor provides, yet, there are great challenges which come with this, challenges which have been made even more formidable due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tara describes having to manage the case of a 97-year-old man who had a serious fall while at a care home. The injuries he sustained included bleeding on the brain. As a result of his age and frailty, it was very unlikely that he would be able to recover. It was Tara’s responsibility to inform the family of the situation and to let them know that not only was it very likely that a loved one would pass away but also that only one member of the family would be able to see him.
Tara expresses feeling extremely nervous about having to do this, knowing that she would have to handle the situation with the utmost sensitivity. When a family member was eventually able to visit, it was to see their loved one at the mortuary. Despite situations such as these being understandably so difficult and desperate for all involved, the family sent Tara a message expressing their thanks for the care she had provided to their father and their appreciation of how sensitively she had dealt with them throughout their ordeal.
The appreciation of patients is something which makes Tara’s job worthwhile. In another case, Tara describes saving a patient’s life as she encouraged him to undergo investigations for a potential heart attack after he presented with atypical chest pain. At first, he was extremely resistant to do this but, after much persuasion, Tara managed to get him to agree to a vital scan. The scan revealed Tara’s suspicions to be correct, and the patient was extremely thankful that Tara had persisted with her recommendations. When asked about how she felt about her role in saving this man’s life, Tara responds with the humility and professionalism which characterise her approach to healthcare: “We have to follow protocol: that’s our job, that’s our duty.”
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