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Being the first person in my family to attend university, I have always been encouraged by my parents to aim as high as possible. It has been my dream to become a doctor from a very young age and it has always been my calling.

Esther: Thank you Dr Patel for finding time for this interview and congratulations for acquiring POCUS skills. Please tell us about yourself.

Early life

Dr Patel: Thank you Esther. My name is Dr Vishal Patel. I migrated from India with my parents aged one. A big part of my childhood involved moving around Kenya with my parents as they looked for business opportunities, however, my studies were never compromised. I managed to remain a topper throughout. I am very proud of my IGCSE results. I achieved 10A*s and was the best in Edexcel Biology in East Africa. 

I soon got a big scholarship to join University of Nairobi Medical School

and graduated in 2020. Thereafter, I joined MP Shah Hospital for internship and now work full time as a Critical Care Medical Officer. I wish to be a Surgeon and hope that I can start my postgraduate studies as early as this year.

Esther: Congratulations once again and all the best in your studies. Moving on to our first question, what was the greatest motivation behind you practising Medicine?

My motivation and support system

Dr Patel: Being the first person in my family to attend university, I have always been encouraged by my parents to aim as high as possible. It has been my dream to become a doctor from a very young age and it has always been my calling.

Esther: Wow, you have a big support system. Why did you choose Medicine and not other fields such as Public Health or Nursing?

Dr Patel: I have always strived to become a surgeon and practising medicine is the stepping stone towards that. The opportunity for growth especially in terms of specialisation is greater with Medicine.

Esther: What do you like most about practising medicine and why?

Dr Patel: Constantly evolving medical practices (based on ongoing trials and studies) and opportunity to learn new skills. Science is an interesting field I can say.

Esther: What is the major thing you would want to accomplish in your medical career?

Dr Patel: To be a world renowned surgeon.

Visualising my medical education

Esther: All the best Dr Patel. To my next question, How do you visualize using your Medical education?

Dr Patel: Engaging the community towards primary prevention and directly treating patients.

Being in the medical career also gives me the upper hand to govern and lead other medical professionals. An example of which is to train my peers.

Esther: Amazing, Which other medical field would you want to pursue and why?

Dr Patel: I would like to become a Hospital administrator or an active member of the World Health Organization. This would help me impact the health of people at a global level.

Esther: I love your ambition. How do you collaborate with other primary healthcare providers in your line of duty to ensure the patient gets the best medical attention? 

Dr Patel: I currently work in the Critical Care Unit and we approach the management of each patient using a multidisciplinary team that includes doctors, nurses, nutritionists, physiotherapists, pathologists and pharmacists along with the specialist consultants. I believe that this approach has been responsible for the best outcomes for a majority of our patients.

Happy patient, satisfied doctor

Esther: Absolutely. How do you approach diagnoses and treatments for patients?

Dr Patel: We do this by combining comprehensive medical history with thorough physical examination and mandated investigations (including POCUS) and protocol driven management adopted from national and global guidelines.

Dr Patel and colleagues at MedicScan Training Lab

Esther: What is your philosophy with medicine and treating patients?

Dr Patel: Do no Harm. Patient safety is always the primary concern. This involves seeking advice from peers and seniors whenever in doubt, to ensure that the patient is receiving the best possible treatment.

My fun moments

Esther: With that philosophy, I believe the patients are in good hands. How have you been able to handle work-related stress and time management considering that you’re balancing between family/individual and work?

Dr Patel: Meditation. Being one with nature. Cathartic hangout sessions with my close friends. Spending quality time with my family

Esther: What do you do for fun?

Dr Patel: Working as a doctor with the most hectic schedule, a good day involves bingeing on Netflix and junk food with my significant other.

In my line of practise

Esther: What aspects of practising medicine do you find challenging and why? Have you been able to solve them?

Dr Patel: Breaking bad news to patients. It never gets easier.
Very long working hours, and carrying the stress home after a tedious shift because you can never truly disengage until the patient has been discharged.

Esther: What have you achieved in your career course?

Dr Patel: I am a junior doctor and securing a job in the Critical care unit has been the highlight of a very new journey. I am excited to be placed in a setting with a great learning opportunity. It is a high stress, high reward job opportunity.

Esther: What are the experiences working with sick people?

Dr Patel: I am blessed to have seen miraculous recoveries in very critical patients and unfortunate enough to see patients with good prognosis do poorly. But every small effort makes a great difference.

Esther: What excites you about medicine in general?

Dr Patel: The unpredictability. No single day is similar to another.

Esther: Do you keep yourself updated with current trends?

Dr Patel: Yes. That is the bare minimum for my job.

Challenges in the medical field

Esther: What challenges do you feel doctors are facing today?

Dr Patel: There’s quite a lot. But let me mention;
1. Burn out.

2. Lack of job satisfaction.

3. Poor pay.

Esther: How do you think these challenges should be addressed?

Dr Patel: Favourable working hours and better allocation of resources will come in handy.

POCUS Training

Esther: You recently completed your POCUS Training, what benefits will this add into your career?

Dr Patel: Working with unstable patients in the ICU, I am often faced with the need for emergency investigations in rapidly deteriorating patients. Having been trained for POCUS and having an ultrasound machine in the unit, I am able to quickly assess my patients and take immediate action as I wait for formal and comprehensive investigations to be done. It allows me to stabilise my patients quickly and prevent irreversible harm.

Healthcare in years to come

Esther: Where do you see Kenya in terms of Healthcare in years to come?

Dr Patel: Being in a developing country always puts its doctors in a field of great potential. We have so much room for growth and have the opportunity to bring in new technology. This makes it a very exciting place to be. The only place to go is up from here.

Esther: Where do you see Africa in terms of Healthcare in years to come?

Dr Patel: I believe that we are headed in the right direction as a continent. We have great momentum.
Esther: Thank you so much for your time Dr Patel.

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When I was accepted to go and study at the university I wasn’t sure of what I was going to study even though at secondary school I always says I will do medicine. When going my father told me that when “you come back I won’t expect anything from your other than you becoming a doctor”. So sometimes I wonder if I became a doctor because that’s what I wanted or that’s what my father wanted.