Taniya Perera, a clinical fellow within Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust’s Academy of Surgery, has spoken about how it has helped her on her way to achieving her dream of being a surgeon, and find her calling within orthopaedics.
The academy was established in 2018 and is led by Veeru Shatkar, consultant and general surgery lead at the Trust. He created stand-alone hospital based posts and a training scheme with rotations that are educationally equivalent to the national level training programme.
The first group of trainees recently graduated, all securing the skills needed to move onto higher level training posts. Some have moved on, however, after the support she received from the Trust, Taniya is keen to stay and continue to work towards her dream.
Taniya, 36, grew up in Sri Lanka and always wanted to become a surgeon, promising her father she would achieve her dream. However, her dreams had to take a backseat when her father died and she became financially responsible for her family. Having completed medical a school, she abandoned further training to join the navy as a medical officer.
The Academy of Surgery gave Taniya an unexpected second chance to achieve her dream. She interviewed via Skype, and relocated to Romford with husband Nicky and son Nicholas, just six months old at the time, in October 2018.
Students of the academy usually complete four rotations, with the idea being they find the area they would like to specialise in. For Taniya, she found this in her third rotation, and has no plans to leave!
She said: “I’ve worked in general and vascular surgery. When I started my third rotation, orthopaedics, I fell in love with it. There are so many opportunities to get into the operating theatre, we do hip, knee and ankle replacements – there’s always something new.
“In Sri Lanka, such high-end hip replacements aren’t offered. Whereas I’ve been involved in a hip replacement on a 100-year-old! I also find it rewarding when we treat children with fractures, and seeing the happiness in the parents’ faces when they’re better. Therefore I hope to stay with our Orthopaedic team to gain as much experience as I can.”
Taniya, of Maxwell Road, Romford, started her MsC in surgical sciences last year, which is supported through the Academy of Surgery. She has decided to wait to do her MRCS (Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons) exam until her son is a little older.
So what would Taniya’s advice be to the next group of trainees joining the Academy of Surgery?
“Come with an attitude to learn. It can be hard work, so remember why you joined. Use the time to learn and be guided, which will help you decide what you want to do.
“For me, I love that there is always someone to push you and encourage you to test your skills. It’s also a nice feeling to be part of a team, and being able to learn so much. The Academy of Surgery has given me a great opportunity to find what I’m passionate about, while being able to settle down with my family. The Trust has been really supportive. Everyone is brilliant and it’s a nice feeling coming into work.”