Junior Doctor Blog - Dr Salma Aslam

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Wet Beriberi and ShadeSalma

I must be truthful. Ward rounds aren't always my favourite activity. I would rather be taking blood from someone, or doing ABG- mundane tasks to some, but I'm always satisfied doing them- you can't beat the instant gratification. Anyway before I waffle on further, ward rounds aren't always my favourite clinical activity. Ward rounds after a 12 hour acute medicine night shift are definitely not. Bed- side teaching however, I love. Being one to one with a consultant who meets a patient presenting with a condition, they may have written clinical guidelines on, means you are privy to a dissection of a clerking (which may have been yours), and you learn from an expert about how to be the best. Being awake for so many hours is worth it in these cases.

Being the most junior member of the clinical team, I am always learning and I'm always learning from everyone. There aren't many opportunities for me to teach consultants. On one ward round recently whilst I was being taught about wet beriberi, I taught my consultant the word ‘shade’. Those of you reading this may think that you know what shade is. And you do. But perhaps not the definition of shade I was referring to.

I am talking about the slang definition.

This slang term can be understood as someone putting shade on your light. Say for example, you had published an article and someone commented that they had published 5 other articles that were much better. That's shade.

I have had my own experience with this recently. People were talking about my blog, and articles I had written and it really affected me. To the point where I stopped writing. Those internal feelings that can surface at times, associated with the imposter syndrome, re-surfaced for me and I wonder how many other women have felt this? When you do something that is a bit out of the box and instead of being met with encouragement, you hear negative comments and see shade.

Having never experienced much negativity before, I was initially quite ignorant to it. Now I notice it more. "She's a great surgeon but she doesn't have any children" or "she's too driven, she's not very feminine". Why not just say, "she's a great surgeon" or "she's very driven"?

I think that when people see someone doing something that is a bit out of the ordinary or different they get intimidated and out comes the shade. Or maybe it is a reminder of something they would never have the confidence to do themselves.
For me acknowledgement of that was the first part of healing. Then writing came soon after. As did this article.

The truth is, when you're doing well not everyone is going to clap and worse still, you will see the shade. My advice to anyone experiencing this would be to keep going and do what you're doing. Especially if it is something that brings you joy.

Shine brighter and the clouds will go. They only last so long, but your work will remain.

Dr Salma Aslam is an FY1 Junior Doctor in the North of England. She has a personal blog and enjoys writing alongside her work as a doctor.

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