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I could hear the mechanical ticking of the clock from inside the interview room. I kept looking at my shoes; maybe it would help distract me from my nerves... I was at my medical school interview.
"Why medicine? Why do you want to become a doctor?" I was asked this question 3 times in winter 2004. I had only one answer.
When I was 6 years old my Year 1 Primary School teacher Mrs Holden asked us all to fold an A4 paper into three and lay it on its side. She then labelled the thirds; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. She said, "Draw what you used to look like, what you look like today and what you want to be tomorrow; when you grow up." I liked art. I wasn't great, but it was fun. I drew a nurse.
Later that day, Mrs Holden put her arm around me and asked, "Why do you want to be a nurse?" My answer was simple, "I want to help people. Like on TV, in Casualty." "But why a nurse and not a doctor?" "Doctors are boys and nurses are girls!" I retorted. Mrs Holden was quick to correct me.
It's a slightly vague memory, but I'm almost positive that I gasped at this revelation. To be fair, to my former self, it was a reasonable assumption to make from the 1990s Casualty programme. And I was only 6!
Back at my interview for medical school, my answer was very similar. I still wanted to help people. And today? I want to carry on helping people.
Of course, my answer was more than five words. I was good at science, I enjoyed learning about the human body. I was fascinated by research. I did a lot of charity work, particularly with children - I think I always wanted to be a Paediatrician.
But it all came down to helping people. I had no idea how much they earned. According to Casualty, they were always running around and at work! Work came ahead of their family and personal life and they missed out; they were always saying sorry. That's something Casualty did get right.
I'm an Academic Paediatric Trainee. And this is why I am still a doctor.
I love what I do. Simple. I help make children smile again. I tell their parents its okay to cry and then I give them a reason to smile again.
I am still surprised on a daily basis. Being a doctor is one of the few situations in life where a stranger will trust you before they've even met you. Just saying the words, "Hello, my name is Latifa, I'm one of your doctors," is enough.
Parents will tell me their deepest fears and children begrudgingly will trust me with their pain. I meet babies, children, parents, grandparents, families when they are at their most vulnerable. I feel their pain. I see their tears. They allow me into their lives. They trust me with their most precious belongings - their babies, their children.
I would never want my patients and their families to wonder if their doctor, if I, was too tired, too overworked, too stressed, too stretched to make the best decision, to help save them.
I love my job. And I can't imagine doing anything else. I will do anything to protect my patients, their families, myself, my colleagues and our NHS. The new contract genuinely worries me. It will harm us all.
It will threaten our safety. I will never agree to compromise on the safety of my patients. That is my red line. So if the contract is forced through, and I know that by working under it I may not be safe, what choice does that leave me?
Read the latest on the junior doctor contract negotiations