Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming and when your child falls ill, your worry scales up to a stressful level. Hence, we have specialists in this field called Paediatricians who ease the process for the parents and guide them through as if they were taking care of their own family members. A good pediatrician does not only educate or treat their patient but also empowers parents with confidence to raise happy and healthy children.
Today we learn about Dr. Poonam Mayur Sambhaji, a child and newborn specialist who is making a big difference in the medical field of Goa. She says, “When I was between the age of 5-8 years, I always wanted to become a police inspector after being influenced by an Indian TV serial ‘Udaan’. I was always outspoken and a happy-go-lucky person.” In 1997 Dr. Poonam faced a crucial turning point in her life when her mother fell seriously ill with Pneumonia and succumbed to the illness. That time, Dr. Poonam was in the 10th standard and was awaiting her results. It was her mother’s wish that she become a doctor. To fulfill, in 1997, Dr. Poonam concentrated on entering MBBS and becoming a doctor.
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Dr. Poonam gained a lot of popularity through her engaging videos on Facebook and Youtube through her vlog ‘Drpoonamsvlog’ which is now on Instagram too. These videos cover various topics within Dr. Poonams niche such as baby care, baby tips for parents, and now Covid19 related topics to help educate the public about the deadly virus. The popularity of her socials can be seen through the following she has built over the years, with her Facebook page having around 27,000 followers, Instagram handle with over 3,000 followers, and around 3,000 ardent Youtube subscribers. Learn more about her journey in the interview below.
What made you decide to become a Child specialist and newborn specialist? What is the difference between the two?
When I had to choose a speciality for my post-graduation, I wanted to take up Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Unfortunately, I missed the MD seat by a few marks in the first counselling session of post graduate seats. At the time I decided to take up a diploma in Child Health in order to get an idea about handling babies who I would deliver. Little did I know that we could not just shift from one speciality diploma to another MD seat without paying a “bond”. I come from a simple middle class family and a bond of 3 lakhs especially back then in 2006 was a huge amount my family to incur. So I reluctantly continued my studies in Paediatrics and fell so in love with to an extent where I never considered changing my line later.
A Child Specialist is a doctor looking after children from the age of 1 to 18 years. A New-born specialist is a doctor looking after infants below the age of 1 year. I describe myself as a specialist who looks after general problems related to baby health, baby care and vaccination. I usually do not deal with very serious conditions of babies.
In your opinion, what personality traits are important for success in becoming a Paediatrician & Neonatologist?
A lot of Patience! This is because one needs to talk to a lot of worried parents who come from nuclear families and families without much physical and mental support.
What do you like most about your job?
What I love about this job is that I get to build a connection with each child’s family, in turn becoming ‘my family’. All my patients know how I work. I follow a fixed procedure in my clinic where I digitally register each patient with all their medical records followed by an ID number. I love this organisation and crystal clear connection with my patients.
How many years did it take for you to become a Paediatrician & Neonatologist?
To become a Paediatrician, I had to first complete my MBBS which took me around 5 and a half years following which I had to do a 1-2 years’ preparation for an entrance exam to get into specialization. One must then undergo a post graduate training for 2-3 years depending on whether you are doing Diploma, MD or DNB training. This is followed by a 3-5 years of practice for specially picking up clinical acumen in your own niche. To get into private practice, it takes another few years until you form a connection with the parents for them to hand over their child into your hands for treatment with full faith.
You cover a lot of topics related to the medical field through videos. What made you start posting these videos on social media? What topics do you cover?
I always had my channel on Youtube. I made videos on infant topics such as ‘regular baby care’ and ‘baby tips for parents. But when Covid19 hit us, I felt the need to reach out to the public through Covid related topics which were not addressed such as small worries in people’s minds. I started addressing those through videos on ‘DrPoonamsvlog’, both on Youtube and Facebook. People began to find my videos useful after I covered topics such as Covid myths and the videos soon reached many people. In a short span of time, I hit 8,000 followers on my Facebook page. I later started an Instagram handle with the same name. Now I am just trying to create awareness among the public through my social media handles.
A few topics I cover are Covid myths, Covid vaccination, Child health, Child vaccination, Myths regarding kids health. I also address any important queries coming from the public through these videos
Which department of Covid care in Goa are you currently working or facilitating in?
I am currently working independently. But I am an active member and Honourable Secretary of the Indian Medical Association Bardez Goa, Chairperson of Women Doctors wing Bardez Branch, Chairperson of Mission Pink Health Bardez Branch, Ex Honourable Secretary of Indian Academy of Paediatrics. Through these wings I do a lot of social activity.
As a Child & Newborn specialist, what would you advise people to keep in mind during the Covid19 pandemic?
Very Important is keeping in mind what I call SMS-V. Here S stands for Sanitize or Use of soap for washing hands, M for Double mask, S for Social distancing and V for Vaccine against Covid. I believe that if we follow these points faithfully, we will be highly successful in fighting Covid at a much bigger level. We cannot just depend on high expense infra structure to be the final answer. The fate of what comes from the pandemic is decided by our habits.
What should Indians do when they start showing Covid-19 symptoms?
When you realise that you have a fever, bodyache, cough, loose motions, difficulty in breathing, the first and important step is to self-isolate to avoid spreading the disease to other members in your home. The next day it is imperative to get a Covid test done. If your results come in positive, consult with a doctor for monitoring and treatment. During the monitoring process, if you show any ‘Red Flag Signs’ you must get admitted to a hospital. Covid is treatable only if we decide to follow protocol. We first need to be very methodical ourselves and move ahead stepwise.
What are the common myths that exist in your line of work? How do you tackle them?
Oh! This question cannot be addressed briefly at all. There are so many myths out there that you will have to make a separate series to talk about the myths related to baby care. I deal with loads of these on my social handles and you are free to ask me any questions there.
How has the pandemic affected your mental health as a medical professional? What are you doing to cope with it?
The pandemic has definitely had a very bad effect on my mental health. I have lost so many of our near and dear ones and even my own colleagues in line of duty. After all the sacrifice we doctors make risking our lives to safeguard the public in India, we are facing assault towards members of the medical profession. We will definitely witness what I call an upcoming ‘Psychiatric Tsunami’ in near future among the doctor community with an impending doom in the medical profession if things continue the way they are.
As far as I am concerned, I am a very positive person. I start my day with 108 Suryanamaskar daily and many yoga asanas for a duration of 1 hour. This keeps me fresh throughout the day and helps me maintain my mental health. My social handles have also kept me so busy in addition to my clinic and house responsibilities that I have no time for negative thinking. I strongly believe that 2 negatives make 1 positive and hence I keep my math strong, making positives out of all the negatives around me.
How can our readers stay in touch with you and watch your videos?
Anything exciting that you are working on currently for our readers to stay updated?
I am currently working on 2 series. The first is ‘Aunty Lolo’ on my Instagram handle which will bring all the evil and myths from a real-life situation into my reel life. The second is ‘Baay Bebo’ on my Youtube channel which will address all those queries of young women where they ask a question with a tag line “Please don’t mention my name”, as its too personal. These will be hilarious series on real-life problems which people face and the scientific solution for those from me.
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