Blacktown Hospital junior doctor finalist for Blacktown Woman of the Year

Blacktown Hospital junior doctor Dr Mithila Zaheen.

“Being a woman presents you with many challenges but we shouldn’t be afraid to rise to those challenges.” – Dr Mithila Zaheen

Blacktown Hospital junior doctor Mithila Zaheen is certainly not afraid of a challenge and her hard work has been recognised with an International Women’s Day honour.

Mithila was named a ‘Blacktown City Woman of the Year’ finalist at the council’s annual International Women’s Day breakfast on Monday, saying she was “humbled and honoured” to be recognised alongside other women who have made significant contributions to the local community.

Despite her challenging work and study load, Mithila makes time for many volunteer commitments including a tutoring service for Sudanese refugees, a homework club with Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation in Mount Druitt, and health education for refugee and migrant communities with The Water Well Project.

“I make it a priority to give back. It helps me feel fulfilled when I make a difference for the wider community,” Mithila said.

“I grew up in western Sydney and my parents are migrants from Bangladesh so I’m passionate about helping underserved populations, especially Indigenous and migrant communities.

“I’m especially passionate about health literacy. It’s one thing to help people in hospital but it’s even more fulfilling when you can educate people to advocate for themselves and their health. Especially with COVID-19, there’s so much fear and misinformation that I feel a responsibility to help educate the community.”

Dr Fardin Ferdous and Dr Mithila Zaheen are siblings and fellow junior doctors at Blacktown Hospital, pictured here on night shift together.

On top of her work, study and volunteer commitments, Mithila is also a conjoint associate lecturer at the Western Sydney University School of Medicine and is studying a postgraduate Master of Medicine in clinical epidemiology at the University of Sydney.

She’s just started her basic physician training at Blacktown Hospital, and is considering specialising in cardiology or respiratory disease down the track – while staying focused on helping western Sydney.

It’s no surprise Mithila comes from a medical background. Her parents are both doctors, her older brother, Dr Fardin Ferdous, is a fellow junior doctor at Blacktown Hospital, and her younger sister is also studying medicine.

 “My brother and I did our whole internship together, which was really nice. It’s great to have support and someone to debrief with,” Mithila said.

Mithila and her siblings with their mother, who has worked as a GP in Merrylands for 20 years.

“It was an unexpected and unpredictable year due to COVID-19 but I loved it overall. It’s a great culture at Blacktown Hospital; people are so friendly and supportive, and I love the patients. They’re so friendly and down to earth. I feel like I can relate to everyone here.

“My parents’ first jobs in Australia were at Westmead Hospital so it feels like it’s come full circle in western Sydney.”