Continuing our series of interviews with the healthcare professionals mentioned in our Top Ten UK Medical Influencers list, today’s profile is Dr Jacyntha Khera. For those who follow Dr Jacyntha on Instagram (and if you don’t, go check it out!) you’ll already be aware of the wealth of information and medical insight she provides for her followers. Indeed, she has already written her own opinion piece on the admirable work of ICU nurses during the pandemic, which is featured on inews.
Our interview gave us a chance to hear about life on an ICU ward during COVID-19 in even greater detail, as well as Dr Jacyntha’s hobbies and tips for staying positive. We thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule as an Anaesthetic and ICU doctor to answer our questions.
When does your day begin?
My day begins (if I’m on a day shift) at 06:15. I'm not a morning person at all (which is not ideal for an Anaesthetist as we tend to be the first ones in the hospital!). I get ready and leave the house by 7 am.
What does a day at work look like for you?
When I get to work my priority is to put my scrubs on, have a coffee and some breakfast ready for handover at 8 am. At handover, I get told about all the patients on the ICU and unwell patients that I need to review or be aware of around the hospital. I get handed over the bleep and this means I am then contactable by anyone who requires an Intensive Care opinion for their patients.
The doctors then split up the patients and we carry out a full assessment and examination on them. As a team, we start a ward round which is where you assess your patient with your consultant and can get input from other colleagues such as nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and dieticians. The aim for the day is to carry out any tasks which need to be done for your patient and ideally get them better e.g perform procedures such as central lines, arterial lines, or transfer patients to the CT scanner and make any ventilation changes.
If I’m the ICU registrar carrying the bleep it can be quite challenging. I’m trying to look after patients on the unit and support my team (which could include junior doctors who are doing ICU for the first time), as well trying to assess critically sick patients on the wards or in A&E.
I also attend any cardiac arrest calls which occur during the day. This can be difficult as it only takes one patient to take up a good few hours of your time, which makes it difficult to carry out other tasks. You have to be a really good leader, team player and learn how to delegate as well as prioritise tasks.
Please describe how Covid-19 has impacted your working life.
COVID-19 has been hard. It has affected Intensive Care Units like we have never experienced before – and these are the words from my Consultants who have done 30+ years of ICU work.
We have to change our environment, from making make-shift ICU rooms to new wards. Communicating with each other has been a challenge, as we are wearing full PPE so having to speak loudly as well as write tasks down.
The patient workload has been tripled – therefore we have had to deploy staff who have never worked in ICU before. It has been really difficult for them. However, overall it has been the best team I have been a part of. We have all pulled together and worked immensely hard. Seeing our patients improve, when you didn’t think they would make it, has reiterated that all our efforts have been worth it.
When you finish work or have spare time, what do you like to do?
My shifts are 13 hours long, so by the time I get home I shower, change and collapse on the sofa! I like to have a really nice dinner and watch something mindless on the TV. Netflix episodes have been great!
On my days off, I love to have a lie-in. Sleep is really important. Additionally, exercising (as I can’t do this on my days working), catching up with friends and family…and obviously the housework!
We’ve recently observed Mental Health Awareness week. Do you have any tips for promoting wellbeing or staying positive?
During this time it’s extremely difficult for everyone. I would say don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We are all trying to get through this period – and it’s ok if you don’t have it figured out or if you’re feeling low.
What is important is to recognise how you’re feeling and talk to someone about it.
Learning and continuing something that you enjoy is really important too. For example, I love going to the gym and that has been taken away. But I have found that going for an outside jog or skipping in the garden has meant I am still getting in some movement too.
Having a routine has been great. Setting yourself simple tasks daily – such as waking up early, going for an outside walk, aiming to complete an assignment by the end of the week or clearing your emails. Accomplishing easy-to-set goals makes you feel like you’re still being productive. At the same time, it is also ok if you just want to lay in bed and have a day off!
As an NHS doctor, what message would you like to send to colleagues and the wider public right now?
Well done for getting through 10 weeks of lockdown and the immense pressure in the NHS!
Finally, all our hard work in the NHS is being recognised which is great. I just hope people continue to appreciate what we do and remember that above all - we really do put our patients first.
Are you a healthcare professional who would like to answer our interview questions? We’d love to hear from you, whether you’re currently registered with ProMedical or not. Get in touch with us via email at Marketing@promedical.co.uk or https://www.promedical.co.uk/contact-us