In Conversation With...Ziena Abdullah
This week we spoke to Ziena Abdullah, a locum consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at our Trust. Dedicated Ziena loves what she does so much she even wrote a book during her maternity leave, which would help colleagues prepare for their entrance exam into the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Lives: In Finchley, north London, with husband Hasan, a deputy head teacher, and son Eisa, 18 months.
And: Ziena was inspired to get into medicine by her GP dad and pharmacist mum.
What made you decide to become a doctor?
After starting as a medical registrar, my dad became a GP, and my mum’s a pharmacist, so I’ve got quite a medical family. I spent quite a lot of time at my dad’s surgery in Rainham growing up.
was known as the ‘GP’s daughter’ and I was really proud to go to his work and help him. I’d even get stopped at Tesco by his patients and I liked that it had a real community feel to it. He used to get lots of gifts at Christmas. It was a really sweet way to grow up.
My dad is still a GP and I sometimes even see his referrals to our Trust! He was also really good at advice when I was starting out.
I didn’t always want to be a doctor though. When I was doing my A-levels I really liked English literature, but I wasn’t sure how to use it as a career. I’ve always liked talking to and getting to know people, and I enjoyed science. In the end I decided medicine was the perfect blend of what I liked.
I trained at Barts and the London School of Medicine. I found it came naturally to me so I really enjoyed it. In my fourth year as a medical student I was doing a placement at the Royal London Hospital and got to see my first c-section.
It was a bit gruesome, but everyone was so happy when the baby came out that I knew it was the area I wanted to work in. It wasn’t something I’d considered before.
What made a really big difference were the doctor and registrar I worked with, they were really supportive.
Tell us more about your career and time at our Trust
I came here after I graduated and worked on Bluebell A and loved it. It was 2007 so Queen’s had not long opened. It felt a bit unorganised at first as everyone got used to the new wards and figured out their roles.
I stayed for a year before moving to Southend Hospital to work in obstetrics and gynaecology, and I went to Leicester for a year too, however, I really wanted to be back here.
I worked at our Trust from 2010 to 2012 as a trainee in obstetrics and gynaecology. That was when we were still delivering babies at King George Hospital too. I found I fitted in really well and the experience I got was amazing.
It was challenging but rewarding so when I went to work at the Royal Free afterwards I found it wasn’t as interesting or challenging.
I always come back to our Trust like a homing pigeon and did another six months here, before taking a year out to do a Darzi Fellowship in clinical leadership, learning how to lead and manage people and teams.
I also worked at Newham Hospital for a year which was hard work. It was really busy; however I thrive in busy units and find they bring out the best in me.
I started my most recent role at our Trust last November after working at Whipps Cross Hospital following the completion of my training. It’s a year-long contract. I’m hoping to find a permanent consultant post here!
What does your role entail?
I spend a day a week on our labour ward, in charge of all women in labour; helping with deliveries, whether they are c-sections or instrumental (such as using forceps); and supporting our trainees. Our labour ward is busy and interesting so the day goes quick!
I run an antenatal clinic each week to see pregnant women with complications, such as asthma, obesity or small babies. And it’s not part of my role but I also scan any women with a bleed. I do it on my own time as I enjoy it, it benefits our patients, and I don’t want to lose the skill.
Other than that I run a vulva clinic weekly, for women with issues affecting that area, and I operate a day a week.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The patients; I find their stories really interesting and I love to help people and see them get better.
I remember one woman really well, she was desperate to get pregnant and couldn’t. We found she had a lot of internal scar tissue due to an operation she had abroad as a child. I operated to remove it with my colleague Rekha Wuntakal, who is very supportive, and she got pregnant straight away. She came to clinic to tell me and it was the best feeling.
What do you get up to when you’re not at work?
I love reading – I finish a book every two weeks. I also volunteer at a children’s centre in Walthamstow for children of underprivileged backgrounds.
I like to see a problem and find a solution. I was really surprised to recently discover that something I started at university, a Society for the Promotion of Universal Ethics, is still going, and I’ve been asked back to speak about it. It was set up when there were a lot of tensions on campus due to the Iraq war which was going on at the time, and it really helped to reduce that tension.
What’s next for you at our Trust?
I’m looking at procedures to help women who have miscarried. I’m currently writing a business case to introduce a procedure which ensures everything is removed following a miscarriage which would allow women to start trying to conceive again straight away, which could make a big difference to our patients.