In My Shoes: Fara Khan, Junior Doctor in Dermatology

Fara shared about her challenges and opportunities for growth as a Junior Doctor in Dermatology.

Fara moved to Norfolk from the West Midlands, where she grew up and where her family and friends still reside. After graduating as a Junior Doctor from Leeds Medical School in 2016, she returned to the West Midlands for her foundation and internal medicine training.

While working full-time with unsociable hours, she studied for her postgraduate exams and the three-part MRCP qualification, which is essential for all doctors to progress to specialty training in medicine. Fara was keen to pursue her specialty training in Dermatology. During this time, she got married and had two children.

“Dermatology is one of the most competitive specialties to get a training job in,” said Fara. That meant when she applied for her training post from Health Education England, she had to go where the opportunities were – and that was Norfolk. “Should I stay in the West Midlands where all my family and friends were, reapply the following year and hope for a job to come up locally, or take the opportunity?

“Fortunately for me, my husband is in IT and works largely from home, so he was able to move. My daughter was just starting school, and my son was in nursery, so the disruption for them was minimal.”

However, for Fara, the move has had, and continues to have, a deep impact on her. “I am very glad to have received the training number to come to work at the N&N as it has a very good Dermatology department with many opportunities to learn, progress, and gain my competencies. But it is hard because I don’t have the network that I have at home. I don’t have grandparents for support with my children while I do a little shopping or the ability to catch up with friends in the evening after work. It is quite isolating. It has been quite draining, having to sell our home in the West Midlands and find something in Norwich close to the hospital.”

And as a Junior Doctor, Fara will spend a few more years being “unsettled.” “At this moment, I want to go back to the West Midlands for my consultant job, but that is not to say that after a few years here, I might find Norfolk lovely and want to stay. But that just adds to the feeling of being unsettled.

“It is not like I can say this is my permanent job until I decide to apply for something else. You are constantly striving to reach the next level towards being fully qualified, and that takes years. It means I am unsettled until I can achieve that. My home is my home, but I don’t think of it as the place we will be for a long time, which means I might not be inclined to invest in that piece of furniture or build that conservatory. It is like life is on hold.”

“Having said that, I am aware as to why I am doing this. This is for my career, and I am in one of the best Dermatology departments there is. It offers brilliant training experiences as well as opportunities to gain valuable knowledge from very experienced consultants.”

Fara has decided to reduce her working week to 60% so she can recharge after the move. This means it will take her a little longer to reach full competency and become a consultant. Meanwhile, she is carrying out a mixture of medical and surgical duties, from running clinics to performing minor surgical procedures such as skin biopsies and learning more major procedures such as removing cancerous lesions and carrying out skin grafts.