I've had this idea swimming around in my head for a while; a series of portraits, highlighting ambitious, inspiring woman.
This series begins with Yunita, an incredibly warm and caring junior whom I met when photographing the graduation of Glasgow University's immunology masters students, phew, isn't that a bit of a mouthful? I contacted Yunita and told her of my desire to create powerful portraits of strong, inspiring woman and she said heeeellls yeah, can I be Mulan?
Here, Yunita reflects on how she has been challenged beyond measure this year, working as a Foundation doctor in Glasgow Royal Infirmary during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Yunita tells me, "I always remember a quote by an American physician, Dr Trudeau, which really represents how I feel about becoming a doctor: “To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always”. We might not able to cure all the diseases in the world, since medications and therapy are limited, but we can always offer care & love to make people’s life more comfortable. And I feel like the longer I become a doctor, I become a more nurturing person inside, and I enjoy taking care of people. So, my personal mission is to offer comfort & relief as much as I can, while also saving lives if possible.
Yunita was a qualified GP in her native country of Indonesia and chose to give it all up and begin all over again in Scotland. Why make such a tough decision? "Well, I guess people need to be HUMBLE enough to know their own ability & keep learning especially, she says, in a totally new country with a different medical system. Did I suffer? Hell yeah, A LOT. Did I regret? Hell no!"
"I think burnout is very common amongst doctors, the responsibility is just so big. It is a huge pressure knowing that even a small mistake that you make can have a huge impact to someone’s life, or even causing death. And in order to do that, you need to study endlessly, which is very tiring especially when you also work for 48-72 hours a week and trying to find balance between personal, social, and work life. It's such a challenging part of the job.
I started off feeling like I knew nothing and was super nervous having to break bad news and handling complaints in English. Never in my life would I have thought that one day I’ll be on the frontline of a global pandemic. It’s scary but I’ve got the BEST support team possible! If I could only summarise my experience this year in a sentence, it’d be: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and smarter and wiser. And oh, age is just a number as long as you’re using anti-ageing skincare!
The uncertainty has been the hardest part of working during this pandemic. Covid-19 is such a new disease, and the only way to fight it is through the patient’s own immune system. It is crazy! Knowing that someone can have it without symptoms while someone else is dying, gasping for air & needing a ventilator just in a few days after catching the virus. And deep inside, I was always anxious whether I got the virus or not and what about my family at home. Wearing PPE was also very uncomfortable and limited my mobility. So, let’s hope that covid-19 will never return!"
A typical day as an NHS doctor is a very a busy one, starting at 8.30AM by doing handover from the nightshift team to the day team. Then ward round with a senior or consultant at 9-11 or 12AM. Then start doing the jobs list for a while before our lunch break for 1 hour (if we’re able to). We carry on doing the job and being on-call at the same time, which means that we’re always be there to help the nurses and reviewing new patients. Then another ward round at 5-7PM and carry on working until 20.30 when we finally give handover to the nightshift team. Outside work, if it’s a 12-hours shift, I could only sleep and speak to my friends or family. If it’s an 8-hours shift, I usually cook, bake, go to gym or cinema or meeting up with friends.
At the end of the day, you go home knowing that you just saved someone’s life. There’s nothing more rewarding than that. And also sincere gratitude by the patients and their family."
There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish. This is what every woman should hear and be encouraged for. Chase your dream, conquer your fear, and never let anyone dictate how you should live your life or determine the pace of your race!