Art by Ameana Khan, Anaesthetic Registrar
(HLA Scholar 2020-2021)
I was born in Iran, where I was studying Law at University until the Iranian Revolution in 1978. My family and I are members of the Bahaʼi faith and we had to flee for our lives due to religious persecution. On arrival in the UK, the course of my life and my career changed and I ended up qualifying as a nurse and a midwife. Although nursing and midwifery was not the career I had originally chosen in my life, 41 years on, it has turned out to be my vocation, and I can’t see myself having done anything else.
As an ethnic minority
Unfortunately I have experienced many challenges in this country as an ethnic minority. It was first evident to me when I arrived 43 years ago and was applying for my nursing. I wrote to 40 hospitals to make applications and only 2 hospitals were willing to interview me. The others all wrote to me saying that due to being from Iran they could not offer me an interview. When I was studying nursing my class mates would laugh at my accent, society is now becoming a lot more aware of these micro aggressions.
Back in the 1980s the patients would ask me where I was from and I would say Iran and you could see them cringing. These challenges have made me stronger and more resilient. My husband is English and my strength has allowed me to bring up our children in two different cultures and with the mentality that they are no different to anyone else no matter what race or religion.
As an ethnic minority you have to prove yourself even more in your working life and for any promotions etc because you know there may be biases.
I always have had to be the best of the best to compete. I have always had to be one step ahead of everyone else.
As a woman
Luckily I have not faced any challenges as a woman as I work in an all female environment on the maternity ward.
As a mother
As a mother I was extremely lucky that I worked part time when I had my children and I started working on nights. This meant that I was at home in the day time to care for my children while my husband was at work. There are not many jobs where I would have been able to do this!
Take home message
No matter what race, religion, gender, sexuality, we all deserve the same opportunities in life. Embrace and be proud of your differences, it is what makes us unique and beautiful as humans. The Earth is but one country and mankind it’s citizens.