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My Story by Dr Ishrat Rafique Eshita

Dr. Ishrat Rafique

July 2020 is the Female Wave of Change Story telling month: Stories matter and we want you to share yours! Today Dr. Ishrat Rafique Eshita  from Bangladesh shares her story how she she became a doctor at a very young age.

Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a doctor

“Since I was a young girl, I wanted to be a Doctor. I have always been interested in understanding Human behavior & Mental Health. I trained as a medical doctor and was keen on becoming a Clinician Scientist. However, it was during my undergraduate internship in the Psychiatric department that I realised we know little of the human brain. Even though certain psychiatric disorders have been well studied in human populations, we don’t understand why and how they occur. Combined with the lack of objective tests and limited treatments, psychiatry is perhaps the most complex of all medical specialisations, and despite these limitations, physicians still must help treat the very real mental health problems of very real people. For these reasons, I turned to Medical Research, decided to pursue my PhD in this field in the hope that perhaps I could contribute to our understanding of neurodevelopment and mental health.

My family is my biggest rolemodel

My family is my biggest role models — my parents have always encouraged and supported me in whatever dream I wanted to pursue.

I had to retrain myself to conduct scientific studies

Coming from a medical background, I had little research experience, so I had to retrain myself to conduct scientific studies. The obstacles in this journey were the difficulties I faced in broadening my research expertise. I always wanted to do interdisciplinary research, however, the process of getting there was tough: no one would want to take a chance on a person who was not trained in their research area and I found it hard to get the experience I needed in other research fields. In fact, coming from a background in medicine,  I learned the statistical skills needed for my doctoral studies in under half a year and I am glad all that is now behind me.

My coolest project

‘Diving & Decompression Illness: Clinical Aspects of 100 Consecutive Cases Treated In A Single Hyperbaric Unit’ (Published in the American Journal of Clinical & Experimental Medicine). I presented it in the Annual Scientific Meeting of Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine on 2017 & got 16th place among 5000 Research papers.

I am most proud of …

Submitting my first paper, and getting it accepted! When I see my Bio & Photographs on the cover pages of my books! To come to Europe for #LINO18 was definitely one of my proudest moments. My first impression and a joy-dropping moment was finally being able to see, speak one-on-one and shake hands with the Nobel Laureates. I have always seen the Nobel Laureates on TV and the internet, so that moment when I finally saw and interacted with them was priceless.

But any time I am able to fly the Bangladeshi flag in the name of Medical Science makes me very proud. My recognition as “International Scholar” at “Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting” & “International Scholar Laureate Program” was amazing! Recognition as “The Best Woman of the Year 2020, at March 8, 2020 by The Daily Prothom Alo Narimancha” also makes me immensely proud…My Prizes and awards are nice, but there is much more in our lives we should be proud of.

A day in the life of 

I usually start my day with a cup of Coffee in bed, during which time I check emails and messages that have come in overnight. When I get into the Hospital, the main responsibilities are to look after my patients.

The rest of my day is spent in front of my computer examining my data, reading a paper, or adding to my current thesis chapter.

I want to accomplish…

This is hard for me to answer because I think my life will be somewhat unpredictable. I dream big but I also like to keep my ambitions as a feeling of what I want to do rather than a detailed plan. This is because life changes very quickly and will almost certainly depend on things I experience each step of the way..Ultimately, I still want to be a Clinician Scientist. I think I am just beginning to step into the world of Medical Research.

Success for me is being pushed forward by curiosity and working on research I like doing with the collaboration of supportive, creative, diverse, and professional people in a healthy environment. I would love to continue my career in academia, ideally in a national lab or in a big research center I work on my research vision and transition to a fully independent scientist.

I like to …

I enjoy reading, I have built up quite the collection of biographies of Physician Scientists. I also spend a lot of time outside of work with my family.  Moreover, I love to enjoy moonlit night, firefly, rain & horror movies & cartoons.

My advice to women in science is to …

Follow what interests you, don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Build a strong network of people around you who will support you no matter what. Find a mentor, can be an older student or postdoc or staff member who isn’t your supervisor — it is always good to have someone removed from your supervision chain to chat to. Most importantly, when choosing potential supervisors, always make sure that you can get along with the person – chat to their other students and try to meet them before signing on to work with them if possible.

The next breakthrough in science will be…

It is difficult to predict what it will be. But I think: Gene Editing, Single Cell Assays, And Personalized Medicine.

To increase the number of female scientists and female professors we should …

Support for young women at grassroots levels — you can’t build a building from the top without a proper foundation. We need to improve our STEM teaching and the teaching environments at primary and high school level so that the numbers of female students entering the university arena to study science are equivalent to the male students. There is also a certain level of responsibility on us women currently in the field to be visible to younger women so that they realize that it is normal and okay to be a woman in science. Universities and funding agencies should also be more flexible for students and post-docs who go on maternity leave, female scientists should not have to choose between having a family and having a career.”

Dr Ishrat gave Female Wave of Change permission to publish her story

About the Author

Lindau Alumna Dr. Ishrat Rafique Eshita, is a PhD student in USA (Washington D.C). She is the first Bangladeshi lady Doctor, to be specialized in Hyperbaric Medicine.

She attended in the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meet-2018 (Physiology & Medicine) as the First Bangladeshi Clinician Scientist. Dr. Eshita has achieved the “Research Achievement Award 2019” & “The Best Woman Scientist of the Year Award 2020- in the below 35 years category.

Her 84 Scholarly articles have been published already in the Peer Reviewed International Journal, & she is the Research Anayst of 11 International Journals. She is also serving as the Country Coordinator: Counter Crime Intelligence Organization, As the International Secretary General of International Diplomatic Council, & Young World Leaders for Humanity, Global Goodwill Ambassador, Global Peace Ambassador, Ambassador of American Sexual Health Associations & National Cervical Cancer Coalition.

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