We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Zara Mahmood who opened up to us about her experience of working in a hospital during the pandemic outbreak. In this exclusive interview she shares with us her love for her career, life and much more.
INTERVIEWED BY: KANIZ ALI
EDITED BY: NASHMIA AMIR BUTT
Photography: Danny @ AperturePhotography
Hair & Make Up: Kaniz Ali
Outfits: Bibi London
Location: Bibi London Studios
Background Decor: 1SWEvents
Grazia: What inspired you into becoming a doctor?
Dr. Zara: I tried to think of a non-cliche answer but it really is because I wanted a career that was rewarding, challenging and offered financial stability. I remember doing voluntary work as a teenager in a hospital’s elderly care ward and I was just in awe at how a hospital worked, the different treatments and how people in different roles worked together to provide care to each individual. And I wanted IN haha, I wanted to be a part of that too.
Grazia: You were working in a hospital during the peak of the global pandemic – COVID 19 in A&E. What can you tell us about that time and your experiences?
Dr. Zara: It was quite the rollercoaster. I was working in A&E when it started and regularly did shifts there. I still remember the panic with COVID around March two years ago, before we really understood the virus and were still at the beginning of learning how to best manage it globally. I’d stayed in hospital accommodation away from loved ones during the initial stages to reduce the risk of bringing the virus home from work. We went through shortages of protective wear, trials of new treatments, mass staff sickness, young patients requiring ITU and COVID deaths. It was mentally and physically draining when cases increased. But equally it was such a warm feeling seeing the response of the public to healthcare workers, for a few months the public and local takeaways would drop off various food packages whilst we were on shifts and I still recall coming out of the ‘red’ zone for a break and being greeted with a local dessert – whoever dropped that off it honestly make our day! The pandemic also brought our A&E staff closer together and I really got to know every member of my local team because our colleagues were the only people we saw most of that time. I still work there regularly because it feels like another home!
Grazia: What’s your favourite memory in the hospital?
Dr. Zara: I remember working in the paediatric wards and coming to review a 3 year-old for potential discharge and had to chase him around the whole department because he was full of energy. He thought it was hilarious, the other children and parents thought it was hilarious and I got a good idea that he was physically well just by observing his mischievous behaviour.
Grazia: If you could only pick three skin care products to have forever what would they be?
Dr. Zara: I’d say a basic cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. Really can’t do without them!
Grazia: What’s the future plans in the world of Dr Zara Mahmood?
Dr. Zara: I’m currently working on two new clinics, one in the UK and one internationally which I will hopefully announce soon. But along with my aesthetics clinics I plan to continue working in the NHS – most likely with regular shifts in A&E.
Grazia: You are the youngest renowned aesthetics doctor in Harley Street, London. What made you head into aesthetics?
Dr. Zara: I’ve always loved skin care and beauty but funnily enough my idea of aesthetics was initially that it is just ‘over filled lip jobs and frozen faces’. Then I met some amazing colleagues that did aesthetics as a career and it was such an eye-opener. I realised that aesthetic treatments could be carried out to give amazing yet natural looking results and that there was a gap in the market of practitioners that truly offered just that. A large part of the aesthetic industry still requires more regulation and it shocked me that some injectable treatments were being done by those without medical backgrounds or adequate training. I’ve focussed my aesthetic career on delivering high quality treatments as well as raising awareness on how to be safe when seeking these treatments.
Grazia: What do you enjoy about aesthetics?
Dr. Zara: What I love most about aesthetics is helping people feel confident in their own skin, it can be underestimated the impact that can have. It may not necessarily be by giving treatment to patients but sometimes just being in the position to say to them that they don’t need treatment, makes a huge difference!
Grazia: What services/treatments do you provide in your clinics in London / Birmingham UK?
Dr. Zara: We offer advanced non-surgical facial rejuvenation treatments to maintain a youthful look along with tackling signs of ageing. We also offer skin treatments for blemishes and hyperpigmentation. My favourite treatments that I personally carry out include facial ‘tweakments’ such as the non-surgical rhinoplasty, treating dark under eyes and lip augmentation. Our therapists are amazing and offer various facials as well as laser hair removal.
Grazia: What are the pros and cons of being a doctor?
Dr. Zara: Ah, this is easy. If any doctor can’t just list these immediately I’d be surprised because at some point in our career when things have been especially intense (for example a 12.5 hr night shift without going to the bathroom), we’ve all sat down and analysed our career decision (haha). Training years in particular can be challenging, at a young age you make decisions with significant consequences to peoples lives, often work anti-social hours and continuously prepare for the next exam. However, and I say this wholeheartedly, it was the best decision I ever made. It’s a very rewarding career, every day you make a difference to someone’s life whether it be saving one or even pointing someone in the right direction in the hospital. It’s a career which offers job security, a robot can’t replace what we offer. You never get bored and you meet people from all walks of life. It’s truly a privilege and humbling to be that person that strangers place their trust in.
Grazia: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Dr. Zara: There’s nothing quite like a game of badminton or a session of swimming every week and it gives me a burst of positive energy! I’d definitely recommend taking up at least one physical activity you enjoy because the difference it makes to your daily attitude is amazing. I’m also a big foodie, as soon as a conversation about food opens up, I can talk endlessly, sharing ideas and writing down new ones. But most importantly, I really enjoy just sitting down with family and friends and hearing about their day because, of course, therein lies our true blessings.