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2020, a year in review: Dr Srishti Dutta

02 February 2021 - Dr. Srishti Dutta

What are your biggest concerns about the pandemic? 

Over this last year, we have seen what appears to be a collective exercise of vulnerability across the world. While it has become a small world over time, the restrictions which we have had to adopt have made distances appear larger and human connections more fragile. My concerns are around the time it will take us to recover from the impacts this has on the health and wellbeing of both those who have had CoVID and those of us on the frontline who have been trying to limit its impact and had vicarious deleterious effects due to this. 

Within Australia, we have been able to contain CoVID yet most of us have family and friends who live in other parts of the world, where it is having a more significant impact. Like me, many other overseas-trained health professionals have had concerns about the risk and level of care available to their family abroad and the inability to influence it or be present if their loved ones were to become unwell or succumb to COVID. This holds true for another vulnerable group of our population who are the new immigrants to Australia in the last decade 

Even within Australia, there has been social isolation particularly for those who are already in care in residential facilities and have limited contact with family and loved ones.

How are you managing your anxiety about these things?

The challenges and distances created by COVID have also brought unique opportunities and increased willingness to try innovative solutions with the use of web-based communication, whether that is for patient care with telehealth funding or for delivery of education such via recent RACGP annual conference. I have tried to remain abreast with these changes and utilise them to their full extent. 

In terms of clinician support and health, in particular with GPs facing an increased demand to manage patients' psychological impacts due to COVID, the initiation of multi-professional peer support groups such as the TEN network and MPHN (mental health professional Network ) has been a welcome change. 

At a local level, most GP education is being delivered via webinars allowing increased engagement and participation. In my local community, there have been several initiatives such as support networks which have helped families stuck in Australia or those who have limited support due to their loved ones being elsewhere. 

Meanwhile I have spent more time trying to enjoy the time my children had at home during lockdown, and the ability to talk to family overseas anytime of the day (irrespective of various time zones) while we were all stuck at home yet far apart. It has certainly made me stop and enjoy the little moments of togetherness and camaraderie both at home and work just a bit more. 

Do you think the experience of this little bit of history will make a difference to you or your plans for the future?

In this unprecedented year when my family members have had significant illness both in Australia and India, the resilience of our bonds have been tested in many ways. It has however increased my faith and belief that if we work together and heed sound clinical advice, there is much that can be achieved even in such challenging and uncertain times. 

My commitment to both involvement in medical education, clinical governance and direct clinical patient care has increased. In addition, my willingness to collaborate with professionals from other areas has increased given the results we have seen during this pandemic. We have all been able to do just that little bit more, dig deeper and strive higher knowing we are all in this together.

I do hope some of the changes and new ways of working will remain with us and allow us to care better for vulnerable groups such as the elderly in RACFs. 

My work with my local community and peer group to support them in formal and informal networks will become a more integral part of my life. Until I can travel again to see my family I will continue to hold my family here with me a bit closer and focus on their and my own health more. I hope I continue to enjoy the many food and exercise Youtube channels that I have discovered in the last few months as well.  

As we attempt to embrace this new normal, let us find the courage to focus on the positives in "what is yet to be" rather than dwelling on "what could have been".

Dr. Srishti Dutta
Dr. Srishti Dutta

Srishti has been a GP for over a decade and worked as a doctor across 3 continents. After completing basic medical training in India she moved to the UK where she completed her GP Fellowship. Since moving to Brisbane in 2014, she has been involved with medical education (PBL tutor at UQ supervisor and ECT visitor GPTQ; Medical Facilitator for Black Dog Institute ) and worked as a GP Liaison Officer with Brisbane North PHN.

In addition to having a mild case of ‘diplomatosis’, she also has a wide range of clinical interests of which the most recent is Skin Cancer Medicine.

 If not at work or being a Mum, she can be found participating on a myriad of social media platforms. In her spare time, she likes to write - some prose and poetry.

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