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Life at doctHERs

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The doors fly open at 9:00 am as the doctHERs team comes bustling in one after the other to begin work. With endless phone calls, countless meetings, intermittent video conferences with the doctors, ongoing fieldwork and all the other work associated with running a startup company, the team manages to maintain a stimulating and active environment.

To introduce the team – Dr. Sara is ‘The Executor,’ Dr. Iffat is ‘The Calm One,’ Dr. Asher is ‘The Idea Machine,’ Makkiya is ‘The Do-it-all,’ Mahek is ‘The Writer,’ Zohaib is ‘The Fun One’, Adil is ‘Too Cool for School,’ and Asif is ‘The Muscle.’ Everyone does their own work while sitting together to ensure that the team is on the same page and updated with the events and workings of the company. It is fun to see how great the chemistry is amongst them; when Zohaib and Asif annoy Mahek while she writes a proposal, when Dr. Sara teases Makkiya about how peaceful the office was in her absence, while Dr. Iffat and Adil sit back and enjoy the entertainment.

The exciting part about being a member of the doctHERs team is that no matter where you stand on the organizational hierarchy, everybody equally participates in discussions about how to lead the company forward and in what ways it can strive for the best. Brainstorming exercises take place as everyone shoots ideas at Dr. Sara while she notes them on the white board. After hours of arguments, laughter, anger and deliberations, the team agrees to certain courses of action.

Each team member leads a health camp every 7-10 days so that everyone understands what is happening on the field as well as off it. People generally believe that fieldwork is left to those who work at the lower level of the structure while those at the higher levels relax in their air-conditioned offices. However, this is not the case at doctHERs as we believe that interaction and connection with the people we serve is essential and everyone should experience it to understand the real face of health disparities in Pakistan.

doctHERsLife at doctHERs
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The Story behind the emergence of doctHERs

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In Pakistan, being a female doctor is an act of pride, a symbol of nobleness, a career that holds value and respect in the society. Majority of the graduates that come out of the medical college every year are in fact women, but after they complete their education, many are expected to and some forced to put their careers on hold and give up everything in order to pursue a family life. Our culture and our society want women to play the role of home makers. Therefore, many female doctors are doctors merely in name, but not in practice.

Dr. Sara Khurram’s, one of the three Co founders of doctHERs, story resonates closely with the general female doctor’s experience. Today, Dr. Sara lives and practices medicine as an accomplished and successful doctor, but this follows several trials earlier in her professional life, especially when she fell pregnant, which nearly forced her out of her career. Pregnancy should be a time of joy for a woman and her family, but this was not the case for Dr. Sara who was asked to choose between continuing her work in the field of Radiology and having a baby. Is it fair to ask an individual to choose between their personal and professional life? Unfortunately, this is the case for numerous women.

Hence came about doctHERs. Dr. Sara decided to forego what society had for so long enforced in terms of the role of women and instead emerged as a leading entrepreneur, founding doctHERs, an organization that connects female doctors to millions of underserved patients using technology. Dr. Sara is quoted having said, “I like to remind them (doctors) that in life one is always making choices and decisions. When I hear people ask, ‘Can women have it all?’ I consider it specious. No one can or even really wants it ‘all’ – every dessert on the menu. We all make choices every day about what suits us and what works best for us. With work, help, and luck most professional women can achieve what they want, both personally and professionally. Every woman has to define success in her own way. Others should not be allowed to do it for you. Everyone has plans that go awry. The key is to have the emotional and intellectual plasticity to roll with the punches and to adapt to what comes one’s way, thinking of it all as a challenge rather than roadblocks and continuing on. I have a wonderful daughter and a supportive and loving family. What more can a person ask for?”

doctHERs’s aims to change the face of the healthcare industry by treating everyone equally through a network of doctors who dream of having both a career and personal life.

  1. doctHERs™ is an all-women provider network which is more aligned with the social and cultural preferences of women to be seen/examined by female physicians – Tackles Gender disparity
  1. doctHERs™ conducts nurse/paramedic assisted videoconsultation which enables the patient to receive a comprehensive, diagnostic medical exam (where appropriate) as well as prescription medicine which is digitally prescribed and dispensed in the clinic by a nurse/paramedic – helps eradicate the issues faced by the poor  in terms of healthcare
doctHERsThe Story behind the emergence of doctHERs
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doctHERS model and vision is gaining momentum

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The doctHERS model and vision is gaining momentum in the community with community buy in. In Pakistan, doctHERS has managed to overcome several challenges to change the face of health service delivery. In the Learn and Launch Exchange Program, doctHERs prototyped with the Hub and Spoke Model. The aim is to reach out to patients who have been unable to visit the clinic due to mobility issues and social constraints. As time has progressed, each individual is beginning to understand the role they play in changing health-seeking behaviors such as visiting the clinic during all health camps, utilizing medication when needed, visiting the doctor regularly during pregnancy, ultimately promoting healthier standards of living.

 

When given the opportunity to expand our reach, we chose to assess multiple colonies located in slums. One such instance is highlighted in the following blog

 

One fine morning, Zohaib Hassan and Adil Fazal set out to evaluate six potential locations for a new clinic. With their extensive field experience and community work through doctHERS, Hassan and Fazal were well-versed in the indicators of a successful clinic. Upon arriving at each site, they considered the demographics, nurses’ qualifications, location relative to nearby medical facilities, and the colony’s needs and reception of a new clinic. After such thorough review, one colony was chosen to start the journey of launching and operating a new clinic in an underprivileged area. New Lyari, a colony of two communities, Biharis and Bengalis, and nearly 10,000 households became the home of the newest doctHERS clinic. The community not only lacked a qualified female physician but rather was in dire need of referrals such as labs and ultrasound.

 

In New Lyari, we met Rabia, a very active nurse. She is always willing to learn about new service delivery innovations. We knew that Rabia would be key to the successful start of this clinic. She was trained by our project manager, Mahek Pethani, an Aga Khan University Nurse. While Rabia was being trained, mobilizers raised community awareness of the doctHERS clinic through dorr to door mobilization, muhalla meetings, reaching out to local vendors and conducting sessions in schools. Through their efforts, nearly 1,200 households were reached within two days. With Rabia trained, households mobilized, and the overall assessment complete, Rabia was given ownership of the clinic and readied for its launch. The official opening day finally came. At 10AM, project directHER Makkiya Jawed and her team opened the doors to the New Lyari clinic. Volunteers registered patients by providing them token numbers. The idea was to provide patients with calcium tests that are quite expensive in the market. Once tested, consultation was provided to counsel them and to provide medication when needed. doctHERS co-founders Dr. Iffat Zahar and Dr. Sara Khurram were among the team serving as doctors.

 

The execution of the New Lyari clinic is just one example of doctHERs team’s collaboration for progress. Together, we have learned and grown as individuals and a team to ensure that doctHERS is fulfilling its mission of breaking barriers. By working constructively and respectfully, we are achieving our organization’s mission.

 

doctHERsdoctHERS model and vision is gaining momentum
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