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Q&A with Dr Seshni Moodliar, UK Consultant Psychiatrist

  • February 25, 2019

Introduction

1. What is your name, speciality, grade and what hospital do you work at?


I’m Dr Seshni Moodliar, and I’m a Consultant Psychiatrist. I specialise with Adults with learning disabilities. I’m currently fortunate enough to work in both the private sector and the NHS in private practice. I also do on calls at Milton Keynes General Hospital and Chadwick lodge. I also do some Medico legal work.

2. What country did you relocate from?

I’m privileged to have relocated from South Africa in 2003 when Nelson Mandela was still our President and who played a role in me being able to study at of . I graduated in 2000 and I was the first Indian/Asian to graduate from that university.

3. Would you share with us your personal mission as a doctor?

I’ve always wanted to be a doctor the age of six. I’ve wanted to help and heal people that were ill and sick and would read about all the different illnesses and their treatments. This was further supported by my paternal grandfather Appodorai, who had Parkinson’s and I used to care for him. He used to say I had healing hands. I therefore decided to pursue my passion of becoming a doctor which was also a dream of my father, Deena Thirupathi Moodliar, who was a spice businessman. He wanted to become a his parents couldn’t afford it, so I decided I would do it for him too. I’m grateful to all my family, friends and colleagues who helped me to become a doctor. 

4. At what point in your career did you decide you wanted to relocate to the UK? What were your motivations for wanting to do so?

When I completed my medical training in South Africa, my husband Ferdinand Rensburg and I wanted to take a year out to travel with three other South African doctors and friends. Named Dr Jessica Maistry, Dr Debbie Jafta and Dr Loshni.

My motivation for moving to the UK was to travel and experience a new place.

5. Why did you choose to specialise in Psychiatry?

I have always been intrigued by the mind and body link. I worked within the Mental Health Services in South Africa, during my internship in Durban at King Edward Hospital and there I was exposed to a range of mental health problems and genetic disorders.

I then discovered that Psychiatry was one of the those rich specialties where we actually see the holistic approach of treatment in its purest forms. It then became my desire to pursue a career in Psychiatry as I wanted to treat people holistically to get better. By holistically I mean an approach which uses biological interventions like medication, psychological like talking therapies and social like social support. 

The Relocation Process

6. How long did it take you to relocate, how difficult did you find the process? Do you recommend the same process to other IMGs?

I have been fortunate as the relocation process was handled brilliantly by the agency I was working with at the time. I had saved some money from working as a doctor for two years, I then made my application and organised my passport.

I sat IELTS, but I was lucky and did not have to do the conversion exam. This meant that I got a full GMC Registration. I had my husband, family in the UK and another three doctors who were going through the process at the same time.

When I arrived in the UK, I had to organise my National Insurance number and open a bank account, but again we were lucky enough to be guided through this. At first, I opted to work as a Resident Medical Officer as my friends and husband were going to travel on our weeks off. This was the best choice for us and I thoroughly enjoyed working for a week. The work was easy, the hospital offered me accommodation, meals and other facilities. The staff were friendly and the pay was good. I managed to use some money I was also able to send money home to my parents as my dad was looking at buying a spice shop.

After I completed 6 months as an RMO, I then started to do Psychiatry locums to first get experience in how Psychiatry training and the Mental Health Services in the UK worked.

I definitely recommend this to other doctors to consider travelling abroad to practice and study. I’m aware that BDI Resourcing does relocate doctors in the same way I was assisted and would definitely recommend their agency too.

7. Is there anything you would have liked to have known before deciding to relocate? And now once you live in the UK?

I guess there will always be things we would have liked to have known, but as we had a good agency, family and friends the process was easy and everyone was extremely helpful.  Colleagues around were also very friendly and helpful.

Thoughts on the UK

8. For you, what are the key benefits of living in the UK?

The plan for me and my husband was to come to the UK, travel with our friends and then return to our families in the South Africa. However, as I wanted to then pursue a training in Psychiatry and he wanted to complete his law training we decided to stay. 

Psychiatry training in the UK, in my view from doing locums, is much more developed in terms of holistic treatment and access to resources. This is something I felt and therefore, I decided to pursue Psychiatry in the UK. 

9. How do you feel you in your chosen location within the UK? 

We were always in limbo about going back to South Africa, especially as we do miss our family and friends a lot. However, as we started to have a family, we decided to stay for our three kids in order for them to have an opportunity in the country of their birth. 

With the amazing advancement in technology, we are fortunate to continue to communicate with family on a daily basis with Skype, WhatsApp video calls and the telephone, so we are able to be in touch regularly. We are still passionate about helping people in South Africa and continue to remain involved in charity for children and adults in South Africa. 

The NHS

11. How did you feel on your first day of working within the NHS, your first week, month and then how do you feel now compared to when you first started?

I was excited about working for the NHS and I initially started with locum work. Again, the agencies were good and helpful. Locum work allowed me to learn a lot about the hospital, the systems, the people and the teams.

Definitely I would say initially not knowing much can be overwhelming, however, within a few days and with the help and support, I adjusted quickly into the NHS. 

12.  How would you describe the support you received from your hospital after starting your new position? 

Hospitals initially did an induction and training in various aspects like fire training, first aid training, manual handling, infection control, IT system and care notes training to note a few. The hospital manager ensured that each new member of staff had a tour of the hospital, wards and induction of keys. 

I was also given a badge and introduced to all the staff on the ward. 

13. What year did you relocate to the UK? Do you think the UK/NHS system has changed much since then?

I relocated in 2003 and yes, there has been many changes for the better the NHS in terms of working and providing effective, safe care and keeping our patients at the heart of everything we do. The NHS continues to go through various changes overall, it’s been good to see how it's transformed and continues to provide care for millions of people in the UK. 

14. What is your opinion on the NHS? Working within it and as a patient receiving care?

I have worked well in the NHS and despite the challenges faced, the NHS continues to provide effective and safe care. I’m a firm believer in the ethos of the NHS and upholding that we keep our patients at the heart of everything we do.

I’ve been on the receiving end of NHS care too for the delivery of my 3 children at Milton Keynes General Hospital and I highly commend the NHS and GP services for the brilliant care I received. 

15. Did you use the CESR pathway to become a Consultant? How did you find it and any advice to other IMGs who want to take the same pathway?

I did my postgraduate training rotating in Psychiatry within the Hertfordshire, West Midlands and the Eastern Deanery. I completed my SHO training at Milton Keynes General Hospital and Oxford. I then started CT training in West Midlands and continued this in Hertfordshire. After I successfully completed my exams in Psychiatry of written papers and the CASC exam in 2010, I then started my ST training and my higher training in adults with learning disabilities in Cambridge and the Eastern Deanery. 

I then became a Consultant with Adults learning disabilities in 2012. 

16. How do you find working in the UK compared to your home country?

I enjoy working in both South Africa and UK, however, the Psychiatry services in the UK are more developed.

Podcast and YouTube

17. Can you explain your brand Happiness doctor’s kitchen?

As a Psychiatrist, I can safely say with years of training and studying the mind and body I’m possibly one of the happiest people on this planet and I’m always complemented on this. I’m a firm believer in healthy body means a healthy mind.

My aim is to share my secrets to happiness with others so that people who are suffering with mental health problems which are real, and a serious problem worldwide can recover and to educate them about the importance of health and well-being.

I am also a firm believer in you are what you eat. I therefore have completed a book named Happy doctor’s kitchen which are researched and evidence-based ways of incorporating foods rich with serotonin, such as eggs, cheese, turkey and salmon - in order to keep you happy and healthy!

My passion for food and people started in my childhood when I worked alongside my late dad Deena Moodliar, my sisters Tamara Valashni Govender, Sanusha Ponen and my mother in our family spice business RA Moodley in Victoria street market in Durban South Africa which was originally my grandfather’s Appodorai. 

18. Can you explain what led you to create a YouTube channel and your podcast?

As a Psychiatrist I’m passionate about sharing mine and other's pearls of wisdom of happiness which led to my YouTube channel and podcast which I collaborate with different people who are also experts in their field. I’ve just completed a podcast with Dr Sanjiv the Dean in Harvard Medical School, Hepatology Consultant and Professor Medicine. In the podcast he shares his wisdom on Dharma, Happiness and living your purpose. He is also the brother of Dr Deepak Chopra. I’m so grateful for that podcast and the wisdom he shares too. 

19. Can you tell us about your recent publication?

Following the brilliant support from my husband and friends and family, I wrote a book Pass the CASC in 2012 which is currently in its 7th edition.

It was my husband’s idea would you believe, and he believed in me when I didn’t even realise the merit of my book. It was peer reviewed by 50 other Psychiatrists, many of I’m grateful to as they helped me in my exam. I completed it before I became a Consultant and was still a Registrar. It’s currently being used worldwide by doctors for the final MRCPsych exam CASC/OSCE, which usually takes place in Sheffield, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

It’s also being used in Australia and New Zealand for the RANZP exam.

20. What is your final advice for junior doctors who are looking to pursue Psychiatry? Or senior doctors starting their first NHS Psychiatry post?

I’m biased as Psychiatry is my passion and I love being a psychiatrist.

My advice to junior doctors and any person really is that whatever career you choose to pursue you need to be passionate about it and you need to therefore be able to do this for the rest of your life. You don’t want to do something that’s not going to make you happy. 

When choosing a speciality choose something that’s going to make you happy, something you are passionate about, something which will be in line with your purpose in life and something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. My choice was also guided with choosing something which was going to give me a good work life balance. 

I would urge junior doctors to pursue a career in Psychiatry as it’s definitely rewarding, especially when we can make a difference in a person’s life using a holistic approach and being supported by the multidisciplinary team. There are also opportunities to do research, teaching and to practice clinical governance which are all important in CPD activities. 

The Future

21. What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I’m so grateful to be in a happy place right now following my passion of being a Psychiatrist, teaching Psychiatrists worldwide to communicate effectively with their patients, carers and other professionals in order for them to be the best Psychiatrists.

I’m excited about being the author of the Happy Doctors Kitchen and Happiness Psychiatrists - sharing mine and other's pearls of wisdom on happiness to others worldwide. I’m so grateful Asma Said Khan is providing the foreword for my Happy doctors kitchen. She’s the first British female chef to be on on was released on 22 February. She owns Darjeeling Express in and Calcutta canteen which both are my favourite places to eat!

My focus is and continues to be in line with the Hippocratic oath I’ve taken which is to be of service to others, helping, healing and ensuring my patients' recovery, hope for their future and emotional well-being which is at the heart of what I do 

I’m a happy mum and I remain a dedicated mother and wife to my husband and my three children who are all golfers. I truly have been blessed with family and friends not only in in the UK too who make it all the more worthwhile being able to do what I do and to help others as I’ve been helped which is my main aim. 

I love writing and definitely love reading books. I have spent a lot of my time in libraries since a young age, so I’m definitely going to continue to write many books-sharing my pearls of wisdom.

The recent books I’ve read is Turban and Tales by Amit and Naroop and SPIKE by Rene Carayol (MBE)  who are friends of mine. I’m reading The Art of Happiness by his holiness the  Dali Lama and Dr Howard Cutler (a psychiatrist) whom I would love someday to meet and interview.

I also just met Author of Darjeeling Express who is supporting female chefs and has been featured Chefs table on Netflix.

Thank you.

Link to Dr Moodliar's YouTube - https://youtu.be/cMSmliCxDPQ 

Link to Dr Moodliar's Podcast - https://bit.ly/2NtfQBv 

Link to Dr Moodliar's CASC Book - www.passthecasccourse.co.uk

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