Welcome to the August 2018 edition of the Sarah Ellis Coaching Career Inspo Blog!

This is a monthly interview with someone who has followed their passion, dreamed big and now has a successful and exciting career. Whether you are searching for your passion or looking for guidance and insight from those in your chosen industry, the Career Inspo blog will have something for everyone. From Chief Executives, to inventors, from property moguls to artistic entrepreneurs, the 2018 line up is certainly set to provide plenty of inspiration and motivation!

This month I wanted to celebrate the wonderful work that the extraordinary people in the NHS do; last month marked 70 years of the NHS and I reached out to Dr. Jayran Mistry to ask him about his career as a GP in the nation’s incredible institution and how he got to where he is today. Jayran is based in London and has worked in the profession for eight years.

Sarah Ellis: Jayran, thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed for the Career Inspo blog. Please can you share with our readers an overview of what you do:

Jayran Mistry: I am an NHS General Practitioner (GP) in London through which I channel a portfolio career. This means I have a few different roles within my job. Primarily I work in a GP surgery where patients come and see me with an array of problems to solve and this can be anything from a simple skin complaint to a life changing condition such as cancer. My role as a GP involves providing medical and supportive care for people across the generations from new born babies to the elderly, often getting to know patients and their families for a very long time. In addition to this I teach medical students and formally examine them at their qualifying examinations to becoming a doctor as well as running training sessions for nurses within primary care so they can develop and expand their skillset.

SE: Why did you choose to pursue a career in medicine?

JM: I always loved learning about how the human body worked and became more and more interested in how it changes when faced with disease. I also love being around people so medicine seemed to tick all boxes for me. I am passionate about teaching so I wanted a career which allowed me to do this as well.

SE: What was your route into the medical profession and what training did you do?

JM: This is an interesting one. I was actually quite shy at school and I always remember how teachers would say ‘he needs to participate more in lessons’ to my mum and dad at parents evening. This knocked my confidence even more but eventually I found the strength to pursue this dream of mine and I really had to push myself hard to get my A levels and secure a place at medical school. I always held the end goal at the forefront of my mind and this really helped. Following medical school you complete two years as a foundation doctor where you rotate through different medical specialties before deciding whether you want to become a GP, a medical specialist or a surgical specialist. I took a year out between completing the foundation years and starting GP training because I wanted to reflect on what sort of doctor I was, as well as travel a little and spend time pursuing music which is both a hobby and a stress reliever for me. I completed my training in 2015 and have worked as a portfolio GP in London ever since.

SE: What makes you jump out of bed in the morning to come to work and what are your favourite things about what you do?

JM: I have recently read a book on this actually – it’s called ‘Ikigai’, the Japanese word for the thing that makes you jump out of bed in the morning’. And this for me is being the person that people can come to with almost anything that is affecting their life – whether it be physical symptoms and disease, psychological distress such as depression, stress at home or at work, healthy living advice to eat better/exercise more/stop smoking or help with coming off recreational drugs or simple reassurance and general life advice. The role of the GP really does cover so much and therefore the work is always varied and exciting – you never know what might come through the door – which sounds like it could be stressful but in reality it keeps you on your toes, keeps the light shining and keeps you challenged – and I love this about the job!

SE: What have been your biggest challenges or learning curves? And what reignites your passion on the tough days?

JM: Caring for a teenage patient dying from kidney cancer was one of the most pressing challenges I have faced as a doctor. What do you actually say to a person that young facing the end of their life, who is looking back at you scared and frightened when most people their age are out having fun? No amount of training can prepare you for this. It is commonly perceived that the role of a doctor is to test and treat, giving medication and curing disease and in a great many cases this is entirely possible. And it is fantastic that we can do this. However, there are situations where patients die – whether this be unexpected or from a terminal disease. As doctors we never give up, even if that is hope, but sometimes nothing more can be done medically and it is in these situations where you see human life at its most fragile, for both the patient and their families and it is extremely difficult – but one thing I am privileged for as a GP is to be able to help provide comfort and dignity for patients when they are dying. It is little talked about but there are no words to describe what it feels like to be at the bedside of a dying patient you know well, with their relatives looking to you for something, clutching onto anything you may say to help – sometimes just being there, being present and being a shoulder to cry on is enough. But despite this I still want to get up the next day and see what new challenges arise because being able to help someone when they are most in need is tremendously rewarding.

SE: What have been your key moments and most memorable experiences in your career so far?

JM: Seeing the word ‘pass’ on the results board at end of my final year medical student exams and knowing that meant I was officially a doctor; then calling my mum and dad to tell them! We had gone through a very difficult time as a family during that period so this was a really nice thing to lift us all up! Other memorable experiences include being awarded the best portfolio during my foundation year as a doctor and then publishing a paper for GPs on the consequences of traumatic brain injury.

SE: What key strengths do you have that make you great at what you do?

JM: To be a good GP you need to be a good listener, a lateral thinker and know how to prioritise well. If you actively listen to a patient you can often work out the diagnosis before you even examine them! This is a real skill and takes time to master but when done well can make all the difference. It is said that 95% of the population present to their GP as a first port of call and as a frontline doctor it is paramount I use the first consultation to pave the way to an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan – the patient needs to trust me – to do this well I share what is going through my mind with them. Being open and honest is crucial – sometimes I know what is going on straight away but other times I need to run further tests and/or seek advice from colleagues in different specialities to clinch the diagnosis and I find by explaining this to patients means they feel reassured. Within the field of medicine, being a generalist means you can know something, however little, about everything!

SE: Do you have a role model or mentor? If so, what have you learnt from them that has helped you in your career?

JM: I have had many supervisors along the way to becoming a GP and one of the best pieces of advice I was given was to ‘assume nothing.’ My trainer had always taught me to observe patients closely because sometimes it is the non-verbal cues that give you the clues!

SE: What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JM: It is never too late. If you want to do something in life, take the plunge. Medicine is hard work but forever rewarding. You need to be dedicated and committed. Get the right A-levels if you are in college and then go for it! But if you are beyond those years and now later in life having done different things you can still become a doctor! Check out the entry criteria – some require entrance exams such as the UKCAT or GAMSAT but contrary to popular belief you do not always need a science background to get in. A lot of GP work is about being creative, making practical plans for patients around the ways they live their lives. I know many doctors who come from art, history and city work backgrounds. Be bold!

SE: What would you say are the top 3 things to consider when choosing and pursuing a meaningful and exciting career?

JM:

  • Be passionate about whatever you decide to do
  • Be an active listener to others in whatever you decide to do – other people can teach you things when you really hear them properly
  • Choose something where you can advocate for others – it is very rewarding!

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