In the fourth episode of “Our Voices”, the new podcast which tells the stories of frontline healthcare workers in their own words, we learn about Hussein: a Junior Doctor who has taken a winding journey through Africa, the Middle East and Northern Europe in order to practise medicine in the UK.
Hussein tells of his experiences growing up during a time of civil war in his native land of Somalia. He talks about the violence and chaos he experienced as he and his family were forced to travel in order to escape “away from war, away from poverty, away from hunger and fear”. His journey took him to Kenya then Saudi Arabia and then to Sweden before he eventually arrived in the UK. The suffering that he witnessed and experienced along the way, however, shaped him and his future.
Hussein grew up witnessing people dying around him due to blood loss from shootings and explosions and due to not even having a place of safety and sanitation to give birth. But the death which impacted him most greatly was the death of his younger sister from a respiratory illness. It was from that moment that he knew what his future would hold: “that cemented for me that I really want to make a difference, I really want to give back, I want to help people who are in a similar situation”.
He would do this by becoming a doctor and his approach to healthcare has been vital during a time of global strife and uncertainty in which we have all been impacted by the Covid-19 epidemic. Recognising the trauma that families have been experiencing as they have found themselves unable to visit their loved ones who have been suffering from the virus, Hussein places particular importance on the value of communication: he says that, as a doctor, “you are that bridge between patients and their loved ones”. He describes how important it is to update loved ones on the condition of his patients in order to provide some form of relief during such uncertain times.
The importance of communication is not limited to the loved ones of patients, however. Hussein also describes how regularly checking on and communicating with patients themselves has acted as a life-saving approach.
He describes conducting a routine observation of all the patients on his wards and discovering that a patient was struggling with breathing difficulties. After performing an X-ray it became apparent that the patient was struggling with a collapsed lung. His regular and thorough interaction with patients was the only reason this complaint was diagnosed and acted upon in time to save the patient’s life. “This is why I love medicine, this is why I’m doing my job.” Hussein’s job is saving lives, something he was clearly destined to do.