Priya, a Junior Doctor, shares why she chose to stay in UK and fulfil her duty during COVID-19

"#ClapForNHS and all lovely gestures from people across the nation have boosted the morale of Medical staff. We are doing our best every hour, every minute, and every second of our shift. Unfortunately, sometimes despite our best efforts, we do not get the desired result.

I am Priya, Junior Doctor in one of the Intensive Care Unit in Birmingham, UK.   

Image: Priya in PPE suit

To give a perspective, usually, there is one Intensive Care Unit in each hospital. Each nurse in the ICU looks after one patient as there is so much to do to take care of that one patient, such as dialysis, ventilator, blood samples every hour, etc. In the present situation, because we have a high number of COVID-19 patients, we have had to turn normal wards into intensive care units to expand our capacity. Nurses from other departments have been deployed to help critical care nurses.

When the number of COVID-19 patients started increasing in the UK, my family asked me to return home to Mauritius. I chose not to, firstly, because of my passion for my duty. As a Junior Doctor, I have spent many years of my life studying medicine, and I want to specialize in Infectious Diseases. Hence, I feel now is the time for me to contribute and work hard for my patients. Secondly, I was afraid of hosting Coronavirus myself and flying back to Mauritius only to infect my family. It was a hard decision to make because I am all by myself here and miss home when things get tough at the hospital, and I cannot meet my friends because of the lockdown.  

When I see my patients in the ICU, I sometimes tend to overthink and feel scared. What if something happens to my family and I won’t be there to take care of them. But the next moment I try to calm myself down and focus on what I am here for, and that is to serve people. Quite recently, we lost a young patient. There was pin-drop silence in the coffee room afterward. All of us had such a heavy feeling that I can’t describe in words. Times like these make us feel that despite all our efforts, we couldn’t save the patient. It does make my heart heavy even now while I am talking about it. I took a few minutes for myself and maintained my composure to get back to my other patients.

It hits me hard when I see a young patient pass away, when I see elderly people pass away without their cherished ones by their side or when someone is recovering and then suddenly starts to deteriorate. As a Doctor, I must find the right balance. I can’t be too emotionally involved because this can affect my ability to focus. Having said that, as a human being, I must connect with my patients just enough to ensure that I give them the care and support they deserve. Finding the right balance is one challenge I face.

Frontline workers are at greater risk of being infected. Although we are taking all precautionary measures, it doesn’t completely reduce the risk of infection. Wearing PPE gear throughout the shift can be very tiring; many of us wear heavy headgear that includes a fan for a clean supply of air. As a Doctor in the ICU, I need to be on my toes every single moment. However, because of the heavy headgear, other Doctors and Nurses are not clearly audible at times, and communication is key in the ICU. So, things are not easy inside. The headgear is extremely heavy that I get headaches and feel nauseous after wearing them for a longer duration. Hence, I have to remove the headgear every few hours during my shift.

Even with all these challenges, I would say I am very motivated to give my best and take care of my patients.   

I would humbly like to request people to take this seriously. Our situation is not normal. Our lives are not normal. We all need to understand how tough is this phase. Please stay home and take all the necessary precautions. Every action counts to overcome this challenge."

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Priya for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

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