Sightsavers India Fellow, 2019-2021 gets candid as she completes her fellowship journey. Here’s a conversation with the ophthalmologist on eye health in rural India, the pandemic and her overall fellowship journey.
What was your overall experience of Sightsavers India Fellowship Programme?
Overall, I had an amazing experience as I got to do something that I never did before.
I liked the fact that Sightsavers India Fellowship had a holistic development approach which helped in the development of my personality. It made me stronger as well as resilient and taught me how to face challenges of various kinds.
Do you think the fellowship has helped you towards being an independent consultant, if yes, how?
Of course, the fellowship has helped me towards being an independent consultant. I was given the opportunity to see and treat patients independently in the OPD (Outpatient Department).
I could perform about 1,000 small incision cataract surgeries and around 50-60 Phacoemulsification surgeries.
Other than surgical exposure, I learnt to interact with different people. Handling situations during a crisis helped me grow personally and made me stronger and more carefree as an individual.
What is your experience of working in rural setting?
To be honest, I had to face challenges initially as this was completely new to me, but the people I worked with were very loving and helpful and some of them made living here much easier for which I will be forever grateful to them. It was worth the struggle in the end.
What is your experience of working with the management at the host location?
The management team at the Host location is amazing especially, the HR manager and CMO, Dr Haldar Sir who were always extremely supportive and would always root for me. I couldn’t have asked for more. Communicating with the management team was never an issue.
How was the experience at the training institute and at the host location different?
Some of the things were different about the training and host location.
In terms of staff and OT protocols, there weren’t any significant differences as such. Both the host and training institute management team were very helpful and easy to deal with. The equipment was a little more advanced in the training institute.
Did you find the individual coaching sessions useful?
Yes, they were very genuine in helping me find my true potential. They helped me identify the qualities that I had and guided me in handling situations that I had no idea how to deal with.
What kind of support you got from Sightsavers?
The support that I got from Sightsavers was exhilarating. They took care of everything right from the start including travel, logistics and made sure that we were comfortable and got everything we needed. They were just a call away and would always look out for me for which I will always be grateful.
What is the key transition you feel within yourself?
As my tenure has come to an end, looking back to where I was when I had begun the journey to where I am now, the transition is huge. Career wise, I’ve definitely progressed much ahead, and it has given me a confidence boost and the will to strive for more, to be able to overcome challenges and face my fears.
What would be your message to future aspirants for the Sightsavers India Fellowship Programme?
I would like to tell the future aspirants for the Sightsavers India Fellowship Programme that the journey was not easy, especially living in the rural setting for the first time. It took me a few months to settle in as well, but in the end, everything was very much worth it. It is going to be hard sometimes, but I guarantee you that you will not regret the choice you made. Therefore, just be focussed and patient during the learning curve, one step at a time and everything will come to you. Giving up is not an option. Goodluck!