Women in the workplace

Dr Victoria Khromova: Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist

Dr Victoria Khromova

Name: Dr Victoria Khromova

Job title: Consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, parent coach and educator

Career path: I was one of those kids who knew that I wanted to be a doctor from when I was 11 and I was pretty sure I wanted to be a psychiatrist when I was 16. I went straight out of school to the University of Sheffield medical school (and, of course, have never left this beautiful part of the country!). After graduation, I went straight into the initial two-year foundation training for doctors. That’s where you work as the most junior doctor in medical and surgical teams, do long night shifts, run to cardiac arrests and generally feel that everyone around you knows so much than you do! 

Having completed that, I could finally apply to psychiatry training – initially doing the three years of core training: a fairly gruelling time when you rotate through different psychiatry specialties and spend most of your free time revising for the Royal College Exams. Once that was out of the way I could finally specialise in what I had wanted to do since I did my first psychiatry placement in medical school – child and adolescent psychiatry. Alongside that I also decided to complete a Masters in Clinical Education as teaching is absolutely my second love. Three years of specialist training and lectures and one maternity leave later – I was finally a qualified consultant and clinical educator!

Almost as soon as I started, I found myself working in an inpatient unit for adolescents with mental health difficulties – something that I totally love! The challenge of working out what has happened with young people and how we can help them change their trajectory so that they become adults who enjoy their life is a challenge that I don’t think I will ever get bored of. And that’s pretty much what I have been doing for the last five years. 

A couple of years ago I also became interested in disseminating the knowledge and experience that I have acquired to parents. I was forever using things that I had learnt to parent my daughter and through my clinical practice I could see how much parents affect children in general, it felt unfair to me that useful knowledge can be so difficult to access sometimes in a way that makes sense. That’s why I decided to set up Emerging Parent – to help disseminate good, research-based information about child development and mental wellbeing and to offer parents support and empower them to give their children the best chance of leading fulfilled lives. I’m currently fine-tuning my ‘4 Key essentials of balanced parenting’ approach – it’s based on the four things that I have seen make a huge difference to children’s and young people’s wellbeing during my ten years of working with families, that parents can implement fairly easily once they understand them.

Ideas & Planning: I think I work differently depending on the setting. In my clinical work I have had time to develop my own ‘style’ during years of practice. This style largely depends on information gathering – I like to get as much information about a young person as I can and then think about how it all fits together to explain what is going on for them. I try to avoid the temptation of jumping in with diagnoses and treatments before I have all the information I can get. As I work with a team, I have a lot of help with doing that. I find that I need some time for the information to sink in and to turn over in my head. For very complex patients, I’ll catch my brain looking at things from all angles at random times in the day and then eventually it hits me ‘this is probably what’s going on’.

In business, though, it’s a bit different! This is probably in part because I haven’t had time to develop my own ‘style’ yet and I am still experimenting with different things. I will usually gather some information, but as there is so much information out there about any given business topic it can be hard to filter out and decide what’s most useful. So often I will do some listening and, as I’m listening, I’ll be getting a variety of ideas of how to implement it all. Then I’ll have to try things out and see if they work. When they don’t work, I go back and get some more information or different viewpoints. And then try again. A kind of trial-and-error scenario. With creating content – I increasingly like this to be audience led, so parents tell me what they would like to know and I create content around that. Though, sometimes, I will share something that has been part of my own learning, if it feels like it will be interesting. 

When I’m creating longer content – such as an online course, I find that I have to work in layers. I often get the first layer of content down, and then I’ll go through it, see the holes and add some more information in, and then keep doing that process until I’m happy with it. I think planning a bit more and getting it right from the outset will make things easier!

Finance: At present the bulk of my personal finance comes from my clinical job, and this has allowed me to be very explorative with my business so that I can find my way to a model that I enjoy. It also means there hasn’t been any pressure to make it financially viable and that things like the coronavirus crisis hasn’t affected me as much. It does feel like a very privileged position to be in, but I do hope that in the near future I will be moving to a place where the business will be making some more money. 

Money mindset is something I have done a lot of work on recently, as thinking directly about finance has been hard for me for a number of reasons, but I feel that I am getting to the point where I am in control of my finances and able to think more rationally about them. 

Networking: In terms of clinical work, we have to attend a variety of educational events and so networking happens naturally, though not so much for business purposes and more for collaboration purposes and sharing clinical experience. 

I’m not a natural networker – I prefer to be creating content or thinking of the next thing I’ll be doing, so I have recently acknowledged that and hired someone to find those opportunities for me.

Quote to live by: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” – often attributed to Einstein. Making complex things accessible and useful is what makes me happy!

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