Monday, 9 July 2018

Life as a Muslim Doctor feat. Dr. Aishah

Interview about life as a Muslim doctor featuring dr. Aishah from Grains and Gains blog
Grains & Gains

I started blogging because I wanted to raise more awareness over real-life situations, no matter how big or small the situation was. I'm passionate about learning other people's experience of life and getting to know their story. The 'interview' element of my blog is something I want to restart. What better way to restart than to get an insight on life and experience as a Muslim doctor.

Today we are joined with Dr. Aishah Muhammad, a qualified medical doctor and personal trainer. Dr Aishah is passionate about helping people improve their health and fitness through positive lifestyle changes. Dr Aishah blogs on Grains and Gains (which perfectly sums up the blog), and shares recipes, workout ideas and other health related content. 

1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself please? 

My name is Aishah, I am a 26 year old doctor based in London. I am also a qualified personal trainer and health and fitness blogger. I use my social media platforms and blog as a way to promote lifestyle as a means to improving health and preventing disease. 

2. What did you study at university and what was your experience like?

I studied the MBBS course in St George’s Universtiy. It was a long 6 years to get my medical degree but it was a time that I grew as a person, both in terms of personality and deen. I met some of my best friends at university so it is a time that I thoroughly cherish. 

3. As a doctor, what do you specialise in? 

I am currently about to enter speciality training in paediatrics. 

4. Why did you choose to become a doctor? 

I was always interested in health during school. I was fascinated by the human body, its own ability to protect against illness and how modern medicine can help people fight disease. I wanted to enter a career where I would be using my abilities and knowledge to have a positive impact on the lives of others. Becoming a doctor encompassed all of this. 

5. Can you describe a typical day as a doctor? 

Great question – only there is hardly ever two days that are the same. I work different shift patterns so may be working a 9-5 shift, 12 hour on call shift or night shifts. If I am on call or working during the night, I will typically be carrying a bleep which means I am the first point of contact for nursing staff that may require assistance from the medical team. I will also be informed of emergencies view the bleep system. You can never guess what a shift will be like so I always go into the day expecting a day full of emergencies and being on my feet as that way I am mentally prepared! 

6. How do you manage to keep a balance between your work, spiritual and personal life? 

It is really hard! I have a bullet journal that is my haven because I plan absolutely everything in it – not that it always goes to plan. I have to juggle constantly reading to extend my medical knowledge and exams with attempting to have a normal social life. I try to arrange to see my friends at least once a week to do something fun. I plan out all my workouts to ensure I am getting plenty of movement into my schedule. With my spiritual life, I make sure I am in wudu at all times (to the best of my ability) to help me be prepared to pray my salah as soon as the time comes in and I am free. I make time to read as much as I can to ensure I am topping up my Islamic knowledge also. 

7. What are the best three tips you can give about keeping a balance? 

My top three tips would be keep a diary to stay organised, prepare your meals in advance or at least have a meal plan for what you will be eating throughout the week and slot in “me” time like you would any other appointment. 

8. How do you manage to pray salah in the workplace when working shifts? 

Like I mentioned, I try to make sure I am always in a state of wudu. When starting on a new ward or department, I locate any areas that could be appropriate for me to pray in and which direction the qibla is in. While the hospital does have a prayer room, it is not always feasible to get there to pray. I try to pray as soon as the time for that salah comes in as I never know what will happen in the next minute. Also, I am very open with my colleagues that I need to pray my salah as it allows them to understand if I have suddenly disappeared. Most importantly, I always make dua to Allah that He makes it easy for me to pray my Salah at work. 

9. As a doctor, you must have a set uniform code, how do you adapt to wearing the hijab in the workplace? 

There is not a set uniform code unless you are working in A&E or surgery – then you may be required to wear scrub. Whilst I was on my A&E rotation, I asked to be allowed to wear a long skirt instead of the scrub trousers which I was allowed to do. I have never had any issues with maintaining my hijab in the workplace. 

10. How do you also adapt to rolling up sleeves, wearing trousers and looking modest? 

I have worn an abaya for the last 8-9 years and I continue to wear it while at work. I have never worn trousers at work. This has never been a problem for me, alhumdullilah. We are required to roll our sleeves to above the elbow when seeing patients for hygiene purposes. This is something I do and will try my best to roll my sleeves down when I am not in a patient care setting. 

11. How do your work colleagues respond to you wearing the hijab in the workplace? 

Some colleagues may ask if I get hot or what the reason for wearing an abaaya is when not every other muslim women does. I have never had any negative experiences alhumdullilah. I am always open to my colleagues asking me any questions. 

12. Do you ever find patients reacting with you differently because you are clearly identified as a Muslim (because you wear the hijab)? 

Again, I have never experienced a negative situation where I have felt being a Muslim was the sole reason why a patient or staff member was speaking to me in that way. I never let the attitudes of patients bother me because I am there to do a job so I just do it; I also see it as a form of dawah to behave in a professional and caring manner as I am visibly muslim. . I have had patients ask me questions about the hijab which I always welcome as it is a form of dawah. 

13. I see many sisters who want to wear the hijab but get put off because of the confidence. What would you like to tell these sisters? 

The hijab is between you and Allah. Wearing the hijab itself is a journey and you will grow with your hijab. You will not be the same person you are right now in 5,10 or 20 years time. There will never be a time when you are 100% ready. Life is too short to be worried about the views and thoughts of others because before you know it you may be in a state where you are close to death. Do what you think is right and know that Allah is always with you – His power is greater than any human. 

14. As a doctor, you will have to communicate with male doctors, how do you overcome this? Could you give some tips on how to handle this situation 

Yes, you will always have male colleagues. I try my best not to engage in personal conversation with my male colleagues. I will speak openly, clearly and in a friendly manner about anything that relates to work. It is important to be open and polite as the communication is necessary. 

15. Also, if a male doctor goes to shake your hand, how would you recommend other sisters to handle this situation? 

Be honesty and open to your beliefs. Explain your reasonings and ensure you are friendly and kind mannered in your approach. 

16. Do you ever feel like that by being a Muslim doctor, you may not progress in your field? 

No. I know that Allah will give me the opportunities to succeed and whatever is written for me will not pass by me. The only way to overcome any issues like this is by working hard and excelling in your knowledge and skills. This automatically speaks for itself

Interview on Interview life as a Muslim doctor featuring dr. Aishah from Grains and Gains blog
Grains & Gains

17. I know you’re really into your health and fitness, so how do you make time for it with your busy routine? 

I make sure I schedule my workouts into my diary and block that time off. If I am unable to do a workout, I simply try to be as active as possible. That might just be taking a walk around the park or getting off a few stops early when commuting. Even 15minutes of moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk, can reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular problems and cancer. 

18. Those sisters that want to go to the gym, and their gym is not segregated, what would you guide them to wear? And, how to overcome the nervousness of stepping into the gym? 

I would advise investing in a good sports hijab if you can. If not, finding some thin scarfs to ensure as much air can reach your head and neck as possible. Wearing long tops or sports dresses is a good way to ensure your waist area is covered. I would also suggest going to the gym when there are less people around. Alternatively, a great workout can be achieved using home workouts. I wrote a post about getting yourself into the gym; my main advice is to do exercises that you are comfortable with and focus on your own workout. By reducing the worry of what others are doing or thinking, you care really concentrate on your work fitness journey. 

19. What are the best tips of fasting in such a busy workplace environment?

Make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced suhoor and iftar with plenty of water. Take regular breaks to sit down during work and try to get fresh air if you can. If you are given tasks, write them down to help you remember them. 

20. Is it easy to take leave to celebrate Eid? 

It really depends on where you fall on the rota on that day and if others are willing to swap shifts with you. It generally is not a big problem. 

21. What have been some of your best highlights as a doctor? 

There have been lots of highlights. For me, the best part about my job is knowing that I am making a difference, be it big or small, every single day. Being able to give good news to patients after a long journey with their treatment or investigations is always a moment that sticks with me. 

22. What advice would you like to give to others wanting to pursue a field in medicine? 

I would say do your research about the career. When I was 18 and entering medical school, the job seemed glamourous and exciting like on the tv. Though I love my job, the reality of being a doctor is very different to what is promoted to young teenagers entering into their college and university life. Medical school requires a lot of hard work but it does not stop there; as a doctor you need to be constantly learning and refreshing your knowledge. If you are passionate, give it a shot. Do not live life with regrets – whatever Allah has willed for you will not pass you. 

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A massive thanks to Dr. Aishah for finding the time in her busy schedule to do this interview with me and I wish you all the best in the future! 

Please spread the love by looking at Dr. Aishah's blog and social media accounts and showing her support in her awesome work.

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Do you have any other questions for Dr. Aishah to answer? If so, please leave them in the comment section below. 

Thank you all for reading! 
Until next time, take care and keep smiling.
Ramshaa Rose

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