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Meet Dr. Anjola Onifade (Yeomen, 2012)

Date Posted: Friday 21 August 2020

Anjola Onifade joined Ashford School as a Sixth Form Boarder before going on to study Medicine at the University of Bristol. He talks to us about his current experience working as an Emergency Medicine Doctor.

What is your current job, and how has it been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak? 

  • I am currently working on the frontline of efforts to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 as an Emergency Medicine Doctor at Poole Hospital Foundation Trust. Due to the pandemic, myself and other colleagues have had to be flexible with our roles. This has involved agreeing to temporary adjustments to meet the urgent demands of the pandemic on the healthcare system. For me, this meant extending my work on a very challenging post for a further 4 months than intended. 

What has been the most challenging part of the process for you so far?  

  • I have found being away from my family, who reside overseas, very challenging, particularly when I’ve felt mentally and physically exhausted. The inability to be with them and to relieve anxieties created by current circumstances has been difficult. However, I understand that these are unprecedented times that require huge sacrifices from many of us and remain resolute. 

How are you looking after your wellbeing during this time and that of your family?   

  • A great support system has been fundamental for my general wellbeing. I cannot overstate how supportive my family, friends, work colleagues and the general public have been. Beneath the obligatory surgical masks at hospital, there was still a sense of great appreciation from patients and members of the public for our service. This has been very encouraging and rewarding. In addition to selfmeditation, I have enjoyed coastal walks or cycles with beautiful scenic routes during the lockdown whilst being compliant with the restrictions imposed by the government. 

What positives do you think you will take away from this experience? 

  • As the pandemic winds down, I have had the opportunity to reflect and learn more about the importance of collective wellbeing. I recently became a member of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) group, an in-hospital organisation aimed at providing support to BAME staff. This is even more relevant now as recent evidence shows that people of BAME origin are disproportionately affected by Covid-19. From this role, I have witnessed firsthand the endless benefits that arise from improved personal and shared wellbeing for medics. This has led to improved outcomes at work which can be confirmed by testimonies of both patients and colleagues. For this reason, I’m further encouraged to keep up efforts to combat the rates and occurrences of burnout amongst healthcare professionals.  

If you could give the UK general public one piece of advice right now what would it be?  

  • I would like to encourage everyone not to relent in their efforts towards protecting themselves and others from the spread of the virus. Despite the daily challenges that this may present such as regular changes to guidelines, we must ensure that we keep up to date with the latest information and continue to maintain good hygiene in our fight against the pandemic. 

How do you think your time at Ashford School impacted you? Do you think there are lessons from your time at school that are helping you now?  

  • Ashford School helped me gain a further level of independence whilst teaching me to be resilient. Despite having never played rugby before, I was still able to make it into the first team. This wasn’t an easy task given that most of the other students had been playing since childhood. I quickly learnt to adapt, persevere and improve to build my strength of character – lifelong skills that still help me navigate difficult circumstances. 

Tell us about your favourite memory at Ashford School.   

  • Playing the role of Seaweed Stubbs in Hairspray in Ashford School’s annual musical is one of the highlights of my time. As you can imagine, starting at a new School and being in a different country was quite daunting, but my involvement in Hairspray boosted my selfconfidence, as this was something I previously would never have signed up to.  

Tell us about your favourite teacher from Ashford School.   

  • I am very thankful to all the teaching staff of Ashford School for the contributions they made at a pivotal stage of my life. However, Ann Millbery (Teacher of Drama and in Yeomen House) had a significant, positive impact on my two years at Ashford School. She filled the role of a mother that pushed me towards achieving greater successes, one of which included pursuing a career in medicine. She offered support that was crucial in boosting my selfconfidence, which was an invaluable tool for my university applications. Thank you for your immense support Mrs Millbery. 

During your time at Ashford School, were there any skills you developed that have helped you be the person you are today?   

  • The commitment to teamwork helped me develop strong interpersonal skills, which have allowed me to leverage a unique position well-suited for understanding and enabling communication that is of value in an increasingly globalised world. Because of this, I’m able to easily build relationships with people where necessary. 

What made you choose your current career path?  

  • I was brought up with strong Christian values of empathy that drove my desire to help others. Medicine seemed like the best option that empowered me to do this through communication, commitment and care. In addition, medicine is a diverse field with guaranteed potential for lifelong growth and learning, and its dynamic nature provides many career options both location wise and in areas of teaching and research. Ultimately, the prospect of advancing science and humanity further sustained my desire to become a doctor.

What advice would you give to our current students?  

  • We are currently facing very challenging circumstances but don’t be discouraged in your efforts to succeed. Studying to become a doctor was difficult, particularly with the challenges of being an international student. However, with the right support and determination, I have been able to achieve this goal. My advice would be to challenge yourself and don’t give up.