Previous Preston’s College Student Awarded GP of the Year

Farzana Hussain, previously a student at Preston’s College has recently been awarded GP of the Year. We managed to have a chat with her within her busy schedule, to catch up and see where life has taken her since her time at Preston’s College.

Farzana attended Preston’s College in 1989 until 1992, with the ambition of progressing onto University to study medicine. Things didn’t quite go to plan at first as Farzana didn’t quite get the grades she needed to secure a place at University. However after re-sitting the exams after another year of study, she passed, and here’s where we pick up our chat…

So Farzana, obviously you’re a GP now, but can you tell me a bit about your life and progression after college?

Certainly. I always knew I wanted to study medicine since a young age, but I wasn’t really sure where it would take me. After college I went to Cardiff University to study medicine, since graduating I’ve been keeping busy qualifying as a GP, then I opened my own practice. I also now teach medical students and train GPs – it’s funny how things go full circle!

You mentioned opening your own practice, is this where you’re currently a GP?

Yes, I opened the practice with another GP. It’s called The Project Surgery and is situated in Newham, East London. We look after around 5000 patients, so we’re a fairly small surgery but we operate in a financially deprived area. Our focus is ensuring we are providing easy to access healthcare within the local community, which has a largely diverse population with around 73% being of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority.

Of course, we can’t have a chat without discussing the GP of the Year Award. What is the process of selection and how is the winner chosen?  

The award is run annually by Pulse Magazine, which is a well known medical magazine widely read by GPs. After being nominated, they take into account various aspects of nominee’s careers. I’m not 100% on the exact deciding factors but for me, I believe it to be the large amount of community work we do at the surgery, along with my drive to keep the practice open following the unfortunate suicide of the partner I opened The Project Surgery with. I’m absolutely thrilled to be recognised and never expected to win the award, so it feels great, and I hope to continue my work for as long as possible.

You studied at Preston’s College, I imagine it has changed a lot since you were here, but do you have any particularly fond memories of your time at college?

Yes of course. It feels like a lifetime ago now, but I distinctly remember going from school to college and there being a common room block that was used for recreation, where we could go and relax between classes. It just felt like we were given more independence and it had a really different feel to being at school. I also really liked meeting new people, particularly those from other courses and different walks of life. The college was really diverse and I got to meet so many people with so many different backgrounds and experiences.

Was Preston’s College your first choice of college?

Definitely. I went to Fulwood High School, and then a lot of my friends went on to Hutton Grammar Sixth Form, but I chose to come to Preston’s College. I was excited by the step up into a whole new place, rather than into a school with an attached sixth form, and when I visited everyone was so friendly and meeting everyone was great, so yeah, I knew it was where I wanted to go.

Great to hear, it sounds like you’ve had a really positive experience at college! How would you say your time at college has shaped your future?

That’s a great question! I think the courses I did really helped to prepare me for University. I learnt a lot and knew what to expect when continuing on to my undergraduate degree. Meeting people from diverse walks of life so early on into my education has certainly helped to make me a better Doctor today, too. Just being able to learn different cultures and how people like to interact was a great benefit from college.

What did you think of the tutors while you were here? Did any in particular stand out or inspire you?

Oooo, yes actually, it’s funny because one of my old tutors just got in contact with me the other day through Twitter, to congratulate me on winning the GP of the Year Award. He was my old Chemistry tutor, so that was really nice of him. Thinking about it now, I suppose I was inspired by my tutors really. They showed me how important education and training is, and now I’m lucky enough to be in the same position, being able to teach medical students and train GPs. So yes, I’ve not really thought too much about it before but they have definitely inspired me to become a better teacher in my career.

As the college is still here, still going strong, do you have any advice for students currently at Preston’s College?

Yes, I think for me it’s really just that if you do fail your exams, or miss any grades – don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world. For me, I continued studying for another year, and then passed later on. One year isn’t a long time in the long run and a little blip doesn’t matter when you look back on it.

So really I would just say don’t give up, keep going with your dreams and don’t let any obstacles along the way stop you from achieving your dreams.

So you’ve won GP of the Year, opened a successful surgery – what’s next? What are your plans for the future?

Well, I was delighted to be chosen to be part of the NHS 72nd birthday campaign, and that was really fun, having my picture taken by Rankin, a famous photographer who offered to do the pictures for the NHS for free. Representing GPs nationally is an honour.

I’m also currently the Clinical Director for a Primary Care Network in East London. This means I oversee seven practices with around 67,000 patients in total. I’ve also recently become Co-Chair on the National Primary Care Network with the NHS Confederation, and my work there is really to ensure that we continually improve care on a national scale. So yes, plenty to keep me busy for the next few years!

Thank you for having a chat with us, it’s been great to speak to you. It’s always good to hear how our students progress and how Preston’s College supports individuals in becoming the most employable in their chosen profession.

Thanks again and we wish you all the best for the future!