By Kimberley Cummins
It was a normal warm afternoon in Barbados, but inside the auditorium at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) the temperature couldn’t be more inconsistent.
Many people experience cold chills when they are suddenly flush with nervousness and Dr Sabeehah Nana was no different as she braced herself. The nerves almost eclipsed the pride that enveloped her body as in a few short minutes, before teachers, fellow interns, parents, donors and members of the media, she would accept the 2021-2022 Intern of the Year award.
“I’m not used to public speaking,” she explained with a nervous laugh recounting the events during an interview with Barbados TODAY.
Luckily for her, preparation seldom fails, and she had no mishaps while delivering her acceptance speech. Her mum Salma Nana was present with a broad smile etched on her face as she stood quietly to the side watching with much satisfaction at her daughter’s achievement.
Though Dr Nana’s husband, Abdul Hameed Manjra, had mentioned more than once throughout the year about the possibility that she could win the coveted award, never in her wildest dreams did Dr Nana envision that such a moment would ever become true.
“It came as a very pleasant surprise. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity and to be recognised after putting in the work required. It’s an honour to receive this award. Nothing worth having comes easy,” Dr Nana said.
Indeed, it was far from easy. As a matter of a fact, it was a full year of hitting the books, learning medical foundation, clinical techniques, long days and lots of sleepless nights. A wild ride full of ups and downs, to say the least, with various emotions being triggered.
You may think – why would any sane person voluntarily sign on for this kind of life? And admittedly a few short years earlier, Dr Nana might very well have asked the same question. Granted, she had several relatives who are doctors with rewarding careers: her cousins Dr F Nana and Dr M Nana, her late uncle Dr MSY Nagdee and his son, Dr Yusuf Nagdee, from whom she sought guidance and encouragement when needed. But rewinding the earlier years, this 25-year-old would be the first to tell you she did not want to be among the doctors in her family.
Her journey began as a student at Queen’s College. There she enjoyed studying science subjects. With this interest, she knew the opportunities were endless. For one, she thought the idea of building an aspiring career, with which she could eventually help other people, would have led her to pursue dentistry. But that aspiration ultimately drove her in this present direction.
“Initially, I was conflicted between dentistry and medicine. My plan after graduating from QC was to take a gap year to figure myself out. However, my mum’s uncle, the late Dr Nagdee, encouraged me to start medical school. I started with hopes to possibly switch during the preclinical aspect of the programme. However, as I progressed through the years as a student, I became more interested and, as fate would have it, here I am as a doctor today,” she said.
During the period as a medical student, a spark ignited within the Wanstead, St. James resident. Yet, the passion to pursue medicine was a case of crawling before you could walk, and the internship year, which ran between September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022, was the proverbial crawl.
The group of interns comprised some 36 doctors, and each was given the opportunity to rotate throughout the four major fields of medicine. These are: Internal Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Dr Nana explained that this system allowed them to work three months in each department over the course of the
Being on a team with doctors and mentors that she could count on for guidance whenever needed really helped along this journey.
She continued: “Internship was not a walk in the park which I could manage alone. Having a strong support system at home, at work, a good work ethic and dedication was key to making it through the year.”
For her though, most important along this voyage was strong family support, both physically and emotionally. And from the onset, her family has delivered just that. “An ear to listen to when I simply needed someone to speak with, when I thought I didn’t have it in me to move forward, proved to be the difference in keeping strong and remembering my goal,” Dr Nana stressed.
On what’s upcoming, the doctor said she is still in the midst of determining her next steps. “Let’s see what the future holds and God willing, you will hear from me soon,” Dr Nana maintained. (KC)