Jesus-loving physician Dr Doughlin

Today's-FutureName: Shannon Doughlin.

Age: 31.

Education: University of the West Indies, St Augustine; University of the West Indies, Cave Hill; Barbados Community College; Combermere.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS); BSc (Honours) in chemistry; Associate degree in biology, chemistry and mathematics.

Occupation: medical doctor and national table tennis player.

Dr Shannon Doughlin in  surgical wear.
Dr Shannon Doughlin in
surgical wear.

If you opened a magazine and saw a short paragraph summarizing who Shannon-Hugh Doughlin is, what would it say?

Determined, perseverant, competitive, enthusiastic, encouraging, humorous, Jesus-loving guy who enjoys playing table tennis and any racket sport.

Do you have a philosophy you live by, and what do you see as your purpose in life?

A genuine passion for what you love, with hard work, will make you successful.

I see my purpose as an individual to motivate and encourage people to be the best at what they want to be. There will be times of failure, but true failure is only achieved when you stop trying.

Of course, my motivation comes from my relationship with Jesus Christ and the numerous pieces of Scripture that encourage my heart to keep running in this race we call life, regardless
of the shortcomings.

What drives you and keeps you motivated? What is always at the forefront of your mind? What are you passionate about?

When you realize that life is not just a collection of random events which you are exposed to, and that every person you meet and every event you have faced either good or bad can work for your good within the plan that God has for your life, this makes for comfort in this world.

I am passionate about encouraging people and seeing people grow and soar in their respective fields.

When you completed fifth form, you chose to pursue an Associate degree rather than take up sixth form at Combermere. Why?

I wanted a different environment and to meet new people. And I am glad I did, because I met some phenomenal people. I also love the way the Barbados Community College exposes you to a different subject matter not necessarily in your field of study.

Was it always a dream of yours to become a doctor?

I would say yes. As a young man, my mum always pushed me to dream big, regardless of what people said. The dream was cemented in my teen years when my dad gave me two of Ben Carson’s books to read.

His story was so encouraging, I believed if he achieved it, so could I.

Most children who want to be a mechanic or engineer would pick down electrical equipment. Similarly, children who want to be carpenters would build something. Did you as a child do any surgeries on animals or use them as patients?

As a child, no. If I did open up insects, I more than likely just wanted to kill them –– not animals, though. I would say, however, I started to find the human body fascinating during my teenage years at secondary school while learning biology.

At UWI, Cave Hill, you completed a Bachelor’s in chemistry. Most would assume persons studying to be doctors would pursue biology since it deals with the human anatomy. Why chemistry? Or why not a double major in both?

I mainly did chemistry because I thought it was more interesting than biology, as at the time, the curriculum at UWI did not allow the choice of only human biology. You had to do plant and animal biology. I preferably did some biochemistry courses along with my chemistry major.

A desire to be a doctor doesn’t automatically mean you are able to handle all aspects of the job well. I assume your introduction to surgical procedures started with an animal and graduated to a human. What was your experience like throughout that process? 

In secondary school, the learning experience started with an animal; but, in medical school, we were exposed to human cadavers from our first year. It was very interesting: the anatomy and physiology and how everything worked synchronously for the person as a whole.

It cemented my belief that there was a higher intelligence responsible for each mechanism displayed by each cell. However, I would look at some of these body parts preserved in jars, or a dead human being about to be sectioned in the pathology lab and wonder sometimes what type of person the individual was.

How did he or she live while they were alive? What was their contribution to their family and society? Did they have a personal relationship with Christ?

Studying to be a doctor requires many years of commitment. Persons after completing seven to ten years of study, have been known then to decide they no longer want to be in the field. You have done ten years of study. What kept you committed, and at any time did you think about quitting or changing course?

Many times I wanted to quit, but my relationship with God kept me motivated. For me the studying was not a problem; but I would say the hours you have to work, plus the attitudes you meet while on the job made it somewhat difficult.

I have accepted that in life everything can be a learning point, and that balance in life is important to stay passionate.

What has been the greatest surprise transitioning from medical student to medical professional?

My greatest surprise would have to be the level of faith my patients have in me to help solve their medical problems. As a result, my desire is to ensure they receive the best care while in hospital.   

What is the longest workday you have had so far, and how long is an average workday for you?

A thirty-four-hour workday has been my longest while on call. An average workday is supposed to be eight hours, outside of being on call; but that can be easily stretched to 12 hours, particularly with emergencies.

Which department do you work in, and do you have plans of specializing?   

I am currently in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. What is rewarding is to see women deliver healthy babies, particularly when you help managed them in their early antenatal period. You realize you are making a positive difference in their lives by sharing in that intimate process of their lives.

My desire is to specialize in surgery since I love not only to use my hands, but, once everything goes well, seeing the great patient surgical outcomes and recovery. It is comforting to see that within days a patient who was very ill can return to their regular activities in life by just a surgical procedure.

If you could be a superhero, which one would it be, and why?

It would have to be Batman. He is just human, but he adapts to his environment and uses his wit to outsmart his opponents. I believe that in life wisdom is necessary to avoid the pitfalls we sometimes encounter.

If you were to be given an airline ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

If there is an airline that can allow me to see Earth from space I would be happy. It would remind me of the splendour of our Creator.

If you weren’t a doctor, what other profession would you have pursued?

The legal profession.

Many readers wouldn’t know you are a successful table tennis player. What motivated you to take up the sport and what has kept you in it this long?

Truthfully, I love any racket sport; but the anatomy of table tennis is complex and highly technical. I enjoy that complexity from the various spins that can be generated on to the ball, and the speed at which the game plays.

However, I will say my motivation came from my stepping into The Gymnasium in Barbados and seeing children playing on scores of table tennis boards at an inter-secondary school table tennis championship. The competition was fierce as each school team was well balanced with respect to players.

Table tennis in schools was more vibrant then. My desire is to aid in its return to vibrancy in Barbados.

On the other hand, as I began to travel, I realized the sport was very popular all over the world. At this stage of life, I don’t have the time I did before but I love competing; and, with the sport having a masters class, I will be playing this sport until my exit here from Earth.

You were the US Open Under-18 Doubles silver medallist; Caribbean Juniors gold medallist boys’ doubles and singles champion; bronze medallist in the Under-18 Singles within Sweden; Brooklyn College table tennis champion; current Barbados National Table Tennis Doubles Champion; the 2015 Knock-Out Barbados Table Tennis Champion –– and these are only a few. How has table tennis contributed to your development, and do you believe the best is yet to come in your playing?

Sport in general teaches discipline and keeps you away from the many distractions a young person will face growing up. I could say table tennis has been used to develop my character as a young man. There was no time for being idle, because a plan was always in place.

It has taught me that success can be achieved once you work hard and are passionate about what you do.

I have had an awesome time travelling the world as a teenager and forming my own world view, and meeting phenomenal people. Table tennis has also allowed me to receive scholarships such as the Barbados Olympic Scholarship and Rotary West Annual Scholarship.

Let me just say in a few words, I thank God for table tennis.

The Commonwealth Games were probably your biggest international event. How did you respond when you found out you had made the team, and what was the experience like?

There was a Swedish coach in during that time, and my game just pitched forward. When I found out I was selected, I was so overwhelmed because this was like a mini-Olympics.

The games took place in Manchester, England, in 2002, and all athletes stayed in one place called a “village”. The athletes were treated like royalty in England. Everybody was so friendly!

It was also great to see respected sportsmen in their individual field of play. The opening and closing ceremonies were awesome. It was an unforgettable experience!

As a husband and a father, what advice would you give to dads, who also have a hectic professional life, on why it is important to devote quality time to their families?

I would encourage all fathers who are out there working for their children and families to keep on doing
a great job and always make whatever time you have
with your families, quality time.

Do not miss those precious moments in your child’s life, because when you reflect, you want to be able to say
I enjoyed that event with them.

What is your association with the Barbados Diabetes Foundation?

I worked there assisting in research. I believe the foundation is doing a great job, as it manages and empowers the patient holistically. There are dieticians, podiatrists, psychologists, exercise trainers, doctors and trained nurses all working for the common good
of the patient.

What do you love most about yourself?

My humour. I am laughing at it now.

Who has contributed to your successes in life?

Jesus, my parents, wife, daughter, and friends.

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