Time for something new on Find Your Flex. In the weeks and months to come we’re going to be doing some Q&A style articles and videos with people from a variety of different professions so you can get a flavour of what it’s like to work in their chosen field and we’re kicking off with an amazing example. We are delighted to welcome doctor, writer and broadcaster Dr Ranj Singh to FindYourFlex.co.uk.
You will no doubt have seen Dr Ranj on TV. He is the resident doctor on ITV’s This Morning and presented Dr Ranj on Call as well as having a very impressive run on Strictly Come Dancing. Dr Ranj has also just published a superb book for tweenage and teenage boys called How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing.
In this Q&A, Dr Ranj tells us about his work as a paediatric doctor. He also tells us a bit about his book. Do have a read and learn more about his very impressive and diverse career!
Tell us about your latest book?
How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing! is a modern, up-to-date and honest growing-up guide for boys and anyone else that might be interested in the challenges they face.
It covers everything from how your body and mind changes, to having healthy relationships, to dealing with social media, as well as how to get the most out of every day. We go beyond that to also look at what it actually means to be a boy, exploring ideas around stereotypes, diversity and inclusion.
Plus you’ll get an insight into the things I went through when I was a kid and what I learned. I want every young person that reads this book to feel like they are not the only one going through puberty. I want them to feel more confident about themselves, and also feel empowered to seek help if they are struggling – something that boys really need right now. I didn’t always have that when I was growing up, and I really wish I did – but we can make sure that people have it now.
What inspired you to write it?
It’s the book I needed when I was growing up! When I wrote it, I always kept asking myself: what did I wish someone had told me?
I wrote this book to educate and empower any young person that picks it up and reads it. I want it to be that companion that you can turn to for reassurance about anything that is happening in your life, but also helps you learn how to deal with it. It’s that friendly, non-judgemental friend who can allay your fears and advise you on how to make things better. I want the reader to feel happier, hopeful and inspired to dream and be better. I made a specific point of putting my own life mantra in it: dream big, work hard and be kind. Those are words I live my own life by and they have helped me immensely, and I hope they’ll help other people too.
I’ve also tried to make it as relevant to as many people as possible. I don’t want anyone to feel like it doesn’t consider, understand or mention them. That’s why we talk about sexuality and identity as well as biology, puberty and everything else. And you’ll see from the amazing illustrations by David O’Connell that there are people of every background, colour and culture in there. This book is for everyone.
Moving on to your life as a doctor, what does a working day look like for a doctor?
Well, a ‘working day’ could be any day of the week, daytime or nighttime. It’s a 24/7 job. I work in Children’s A&E and Intensive Care, so I tend to do shift work. Each shift lasts around 13 hours and every one is different. Some days are steady, and others completely hectic and unpredictable. That’s one of the wonderful things about my job – no two days are the same and it’s never boring!
How do you find a work life balance?
Probably not very well! I’m guilty of not switching off when I should and working late into the evenings. But I always make sure that I have some time to down tools and have fun too. I love my various jobs, both within and outside medicine, and the variety keeps me going.
What is the best part about your job?
The variety of the work and the people I get to work with. It keeps me busy and interested. I found I’m naturally suited to flexible working because it means I get to do different things. I feel very lucky to be able to do so. There is an inherent lack of security in that sometimes, but I’m the kind of person that likes to try out different things and go with what works. It’s going OK so far!
Is there a difficult part to your job?
Working in hospital can sometimes be difficult because of the long hours and also the nature of the stuff you’re dealing with. So you have to be both physically and emotionally resilient. My media work can be unpredictable and quite demanding, so that needs a lot of energy and attention too.
So overall, I guess the hardest part is remembering to allow yourself time to rest and recover. Sometimes I have to tell myself that taking a break is just as important as doing something – because it’s in those spaces that you get a chance to reflect, recover and refocus.
If someone was considering a career in medicine, what advice would you give to them?
I would say aim for the stars. No matter who you are or where you are from, go for the best that you can be, without fear. You can deal with the challenges as they come along, but there is no reason why you can’t dream and strive for those goals.
The first thing I can remember is wanting to be an astronaut. No idea why… I guess it just seemed like a cool job. Then I wanted to be a teacher, but soon changed my mind when I saw how hard teachers have to work! Eventually I settled on wanting to become a doctor. I realised that I loved science, had a fascination with how things worked and really wanted to help others. So medicine seemed like a logical choice.
But I was never really that academic and I didn’t think I could make it. And I didn’t know any doctors so didn’t have any idea of what it entailed. Fortunately, we were very good friends with our local pharmacist who advised me to just aim as high as I could and see what happened. He was absolutely right, and that’s a piece of advice I’ve carried with me throughout my career. Just give it your best shot – no matter where you end up, you’ll be in a better place than where you started.
Oh, and always remember, nothing good ever comes easy… so be prepared to put the work in!
Lots of youngsters will be stressing about GCSE and A-level assessments. What advice would you give to mums and dads to help their children cope?
The thing to remember is that these young people aren’t just dealing with exam stress. They’re trying to figure out growing up too! As adults we can forget what it feels like to be a young teen and we need to try and throw ourselves back to the feelings we experienced. That’s easier said than done though, and the best advice I can give any parent is to create an atmosphere where your children can talk about their stress and anxiety if they need to. Try and answer their questions and above all else, support them. Anything you can do to encourage them to take healthy breaks from revision is important too – no one performs at their best if they’re exhausted.
Growing up is such a confusing time for young people and even more so after the year we’ve just had. Trying to put yourself in their shoes is really helpful, which is why I think it’s really worthwhile for parents to read my book themselves – it will help them understand and empathise with their kids and what they’re feeling.
Finally, where can readers get a copy of How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing?
How to Grow Up and Feel Amazing! is available from all good bookshops and online here.
Thank you to Dr Ranj for being the first to contribute to our ‘A Day In The Life Of…’ series.
You may also be interested in checking out our rough guide to roles in health and social care, the opportunities really are endless in this sector.