An Interview with Dr Ndikum
22 May 2020 |
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Recently, we created a list of Ten UK Medical Influencers You Should Follow. If you missed that article, click here to read it now. Today, we’d like to delve deeper into the world of one of the doctors featured on that list, Dr Ndikum, who is one of ProMedical’s registered locums. Our previous article details his impressive CV, but what does a typical day in his life look like? What follows is an incredibly insightful interview, covering both personal and professional aspects.
We thank Dr Ndikum for answering our questions and hope to follow along with his career, which has already spanned clinical trials, writing and entrepreneurship, as well as working for the NHS. Be sure to watch his Youtube video series “Covid for the Confused” here.
When does your day begin? Which task(s) do you like to achieve first?
I’m not a morning person so I suppose my ‘day’ begins in the late night or early hours of the morning before I go to sleep. This is usually the time when the general calm and inactivity makes it possible for my creativity to come through.
In terms of the ‘tasks’ that I like to achieve, I suppose for me it boils down to mindset. I always strive to improve what I consider to be the four main categories of my life, namely: 1. ‘SPIRIT’: Spiritual/philosophical 2. ‘MIND’: Intellectual/Career 3. ‘HEART’: Emotional 4. ‘BODY’: Physical
From these buckets, I backwards engineer my objective, deconstruct it into bitesize tasks and then divide these tasks into immediate, short-term, medium-term and long term.
As an example, my current tasks in these categories are as follows:
- Explore the ontological thread uniting ancient religious philosophies.
- Apply these findings into your own life i.e. ‘the philosophical life’ by infusing the newly identified values into your own personal code of conduct
- Develop as a Pharma physician – keep on top of e-portfolio
- Continue to publish
- Utilise your knowledge of public health to help as many people as possible make sense of COVID-19.
- Identify interpersonal strengths and weaknesses/growth areas
- Be open to constructive feedback
- Aim for an iterative growth of, and refinement in, emotional intelligence
- Keep in touch with your creativity and work on the second book as it emerges
- Stick to an optimum nutrition plan
- Continue strength and power training with resistance bands in light of gym closures.
There are various apps that I have used to keep on top of all these, from Smartsheet to GoogleKeep and Trello. I used to aim for a once and for all system but I’ve learned to adapt this general approach to my circumstances.
What does a day at work look like for you?
I enjoy my commute since it provides me with time to mentally go through the different categories of my life and accordingly prioritise the tasks. So I break the day down into three parts:
- PLANNING AND PRIORITISATION
- CONTRIBUTION – job – this will obviously vary from day to day.
- HOMEWORK – i.e. side gigs/passion projects and CV optimising activities (e.g. publishing papers).
Chunking my day like this means that I continue to progress holistically whichever job I’m in and whatever challenges come my way.
My challenges are no different to those faced by most of us: family, friendships, bills, negative self-talk etc. I’m learning to go more with the tide and just keep going. It’s not always easy but as long as I’m functional, I’m fairly certain that I’ll land on my feet.
Please describe how Covid-19 has impacted your working life.
The impact of the pandemic has been multitudinous. At one level, it’s rekindled my love of general medicine, reminded me why I became a doctor in the first place and brought together healthcare professionals across the board to become a truly unified multi-disciplinary team.
On the other hand, it’s been difficult seeing families make decisions that would never have to be made during ‘peacetime.’ I recall, for example, one patient being torn at having to decide between visiting her ailing family member in hospital, and seeing her new grandchild being born. We spoke for half an hour and by the end of it, she seemed satisfied with the conclusion that we reached together, but it broke my heart witnessing another human being go through that.
In a nutshell, the pandemic has impacted my working life most powerfully by reminding me of what selfless and truly compassionate service is all about: utilising all that you have learned in concert with your innate talents, to benefit the lives of other human beings.
When you finish work or have spare time, what do you like to do?
Spend time with my wife. Read. Watch Netflix. Try to learn to cook. Catch up with friends.
As this is Mental Health Awareness week, do you have any tips for promoting wellbeing or staying positive?
It’s hard even at the best of times (whatever they might be these days) to keep positive. Although I can’t speak for everyone, staying sane and maintaining resilience during this time boils down to perspective. I am aware that professionals in my native Cameroon are struggling to feed themselves during lockdown and numerous individuals – even in the UK – young and old, are dying before their time. I’ve witnessed these deaths. I’ve shared the heartache with families. I’ve seen what this insidious thief can do to families as it shreds their loved ones to pieces, leaving a trail of heartbreak and suffering. And when things get a bit tough, I try to remind myself what my patients are going through: sit with the pain that I shared with them and count my own blessings, as far as is possible.
No doubt I get down, despondent and exasperated as we all do. But having a strong circle of friends to inject that perspective when we least have it is a wonderful thing to maintain.
As a physician, what message would you like to send to colleagues and the wider public right now?
We’re in this together. And only by being willing to share our individual emotional, physical and intellectual energies will we make it through together. Hoarding these assets is not the thing to do during this time since the maintenance of society is a collective endeavour. Let’s all remember that and while not exhausting ourselves, at least seek to share whatever little energy we have every day, to reduce the suffering of others, near and far.
DR NDIKUM GRADUATES FROM YALE, MAY 2018
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