My journey to becoming the first female SAS committee chair

Ujjwala Anand Mohite is passionate about encouraging more women into leadership positions where they can enact positive change in the working lives of their colleagues

Location: UK
Published: Friday 14 October 2022
Ujjwala Mohite

I came to the UK from India to join my husband. Before that, I completed my MBBS in India which was followed by a postgraduate training degree in pathology.

Initially, I took a career break to look after my young family. When I started applying for SHO jobs, I was told that I was overqualified and that I was not eligible to apply for a registrar post because I had no experience working in the UK.

After several interviews, I got an SHO job in histopathology followed by run-through training in histopathology with an NTN number and obtained my DRCPath and FEBPath. Near the end of my training, my youngest daughter was born, which changed my priorities. I made a positive career choice to become a SAS doctor to maintain a better work-life balance due to my family commitments.

I was appointed as an associate specialist in histopathology, taking into consideration my previous experience. Initially, I was working full time but then worked part-time in London and the West Midlands where my family reside. This meant I was commuting from Birmingham to London every week.

In this post, my colleagues were very supportive and encouraged me to join the local LNC in London. I became the SAS tutor and SAS lead at my trust. I was co-opted as a member of the national SASC committee in 2010 and subsequently became involved in various BMA committees, including the London local negotiating forum. Later, I was elected as the North Thames regional SASC committee chair.

Notably, as a member of an LNC of West Middlesex University Hospital and Chelsea Westminster Hospital from 2013-2019, we were among the first trusts to agree two extra days of annual leave for SAS doctors, in line with our consultant colleagues.

Other previous roles include being an appraiser for consultants and senior clinicians and a SAS tutor and SAS lead. As a SAS tutor, I helped in drafting job plans, organised meetings and encouraged other SAS colleagues to apply for regrading. I also represented other SAS colleagues in trying to resolve issues with management and in various educational and work-related activities.

In 2014, I was elected as SAS conference deputy chair from among 150 delegates and represented all SAS doctors working in the UK over the next six years. During this time, I also helped organise our first women's breakfast meeting at the SAS conference. Subsequently, I became SAS conference chair, and we held our first successful virtual conference in 2021.

The SAS committee has never had a female chair before. I am thus humbled and honoured to be the first female chair with an IMG and BAME background. Like my predecessors, I will be faced with enormous challenges and a tough fight to achieve our goals.

We need to encourage more women into these positions of leadership where they can make a meaningful difference, and the BMA will work around your requirements. I often feel that huge decisions are made about our working and personal lives without us in the room. We must reflect the workforce and the membership as best we can, which will allow us to better represent our profession.

Ujjwala Anand Mohite is chair of the BMA SAS committee