Cheerful, full of energy and positivity, it is not surprising that Dr. Nokukhanya Khanyile is the VP of Mental Matters. As a paediatric registrar, she is driven by faith, courage and optimism.

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What made you want to pursue medicine and paediatrics?

I chose medicine because it fulfilled my love for helping people. I get bored easily, so this was a field that would require me to be constantly stimulated.

How did you survive your varsity years and internships?

I survived my varsity years by making sure that I did my work as early in the block as possible and asking as many questions as I could to understand the work. I read about my cases and followed doctors, so that by the time exams came along, I felt confident in my skills and could easily recall information out of habit.

I survived my internship by the grace of God. At the time, I was going through quite a deep personal challenge, so I really relied on a strong support system in the form of family and friends, as well as growing faith to get through it.

What’s been the hardest part of your career?

Definitely having to break bad news to families about deaths or serious conditions. What I’ve seen is that when a child gets ill or dies, people find someone to blame and it’s hard having to see the guilt, pain or anger in a family’s eyes.

What is the best part of your working day as a medical officer?

Definitely walking into a ward and seeing the effect I have on my colleagues, families and patients. Their smiles when I greet them brighten my day and give me more of a reason to go on.

Do you believe the perfect career exists?

Yes and no. I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect career because it has some lows that really make you question why you decided to do that job. But, I always believe that there is a perfect career ‘for me’, something that I just always return to because it drives me as a human being to be better in that field.

Nokukhanya Khanyile running

How do you network in your career?

In medicine, I’ve found that the easiest time to network is on the job because you come into contact with so many well-recognised and experienced specialists with so many opportunities that you get exposed to while engaging with them on ward rounds, walking between patient wards or chatting in meeting rooms before presentations.

If you could choose anyone in the world to be your mentor, who would it be?

I would love for Bonang Matheba and Beyoncé to be my mentors. Their work ethic is simply incredible and the way they carry themselves in a professional setting, with such impeccable delivery and humanity, is a goal I strive to achieve every day.

How do you manage your time?

The only trick I have really is to use Stephen Covey’s tool in his book ‘7 Habits Of Highly Effective People’, which is to prioritise things according to whether they’re urgent or non-urgent as well as important versus unimportant. Another thing is to identify whether something will serve me in a positive or negative way. If it’s going to cause me more stress than benefit, it may not be the right thing to do

Listen to The Myth of Work-Life Balance podcast.

When is your most productive time of the day?

Definitely the morning.

What is the hardest financial lesson you’ve learned?

Do not lend money to your boyfriend or girlfriend without a written contract.

Nokukhanya Khanyile speaking

Do you struggle to save money for investments?

No, I don’t.

I made it a priority when I started earning a salary to make my retirement annuity and long-term savings contributions come off as a debit order the day after my salary comes in to my bank account to prevent me from spending it.

What advice would you give other young professionals?

Avoid gossiping about your colleagues. It may be incredibly tempting to listen to and participate but the person you’re talking about will feel disrespected. It may make it difficult to work with you no matter how good your work ethic may be.

What stereotype about young people would you want to change?

That young people are not willing to work hard for the change that they want to see in the world, no matter how difficult it may be.

Young professionals – just like you

If you enjoyed this profile, you won’t want to miss the others in our series for young professionals.

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