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learning. It’s the way I learned as a kid.” He had already started making the odd

appearance in the media as a “couch doctor”, talking about medical matters, and people were always asking him if he’d thought about screen-testing to be a presenter. This got him thinking and he came up with the idea of a medically based programme for children. He took it to his friend and fellow choir member, Simon Hickson, who had worked in children’s TV for years as part of the comedy duo Trevor and Simon. Hickson liked the idea, set up a meeting for Dr Ranj with a production company, Kindle Entertainment, and they agreed to help develop the show. This involved changing the original target audience, which Dr Ranj had foreseen as 6–12 year-olds, to pre-schoolers. “I thought, this is probably too complicated

for younger kids. But Kindle has a lot more experience in creating kids’ shows and they said, actually, if we create this for a pre-school market, it will be richer.” It was at this time that the idea for songs

was mooted. He laughs as he remembers it. “The people at Kindle said, ‘Hang on, you know Simon through choir, right? How would you feel about singing on the show?’ And I thought, you know what, I’ll give it a go. And I think it’s been one of the most popular parts actually.”

The songs, based on modern and old-school classics, are indeed very catchy, and if you listen to them a few times do not be surprised to find yourself singing lyrics like “Where does your poo come from? Why does it stop? Stay in your bottom and not make a plop. Don’t squeeze or strain or do it in a rush. Soon you’ll be finished then you can fluuuuush.” But there’s always a serious intent, and Dr

Ranj is extremely proud of the way they have managed to communicate some very complicated medical concepts, such as diabetes, to this age group. “Loads of families have contacted me, saying thank you, because now I can show this to my child and their friends and they can understand what’s going on.”

Finding time As is the nature of these things, Dr Ranj’s appearances on Get Well Soon did not go

unnoticed by other media executives. A meeting with ITV led to appearances on the This Morning programme, where as a ‘couch doctor’ he has dealt with a wide variety of issues, from constipation to meningitis to self- harm. After wowing audiences, ITV have now rewarded him with his own regular slot on the show, Growing Pains. It all helps him to further his ambitions

regarding health promotion, he says. “It’s a family audience and we get to tackle some really, really serious issues.” Of course, having a dual career as a hospital

doctor and a media doctor will pull a person in many directions at once. So after the career break that saw the birth of Get Well Soon, Dr Ranj took the decision to go part-time, so that he could cope with the competing demands on his time. He was just starting his ST5 year and had to

make a case for it to the Deanery and to his supervisors. “It wasn’t a decision I’d taken lightly. But I thought that if an opportunity comes up that’s too good to miss, I’d like to give it a shot.” It’s quite an unusual step in medicine to go

part-time for non-family/childcare reasons and he doesn’t shrink from the difficult questions his status as both media personality and

from three to six years, it hasn’t been detrimental at all. In fact I think it’s been a very positive thing. You know, full-time medical training is a lot of pressure, there’s a lot to do, and I would find that sometimes I barely had room to breathe, but now I can. I find that I have more time to consolidate what I’ve learned, to really make the most of my clinical experience.”

Passion and possibility For the future, Dr Ranj is looking to develop both parts of his career equally, eventually qualifying as paediatric emergency medicine consultant. He is also having meetings about taking Get Well Soon forward for another season, and hopes to get some other shows off the ground. “I’m constantly trying to think up new ideas, all medical, and pitching them to production companies.” He agrees that his has not been an

orthodox way to pursue a medical career, but he’s having fun, he says, and advises young people starting out not to forget the importance of that. “Don’t lose your passions just because you’re a doctor and it tends to take over your life. It’s very easy in medicine and clinical training to just start at the beginning and go through the sausage factory and come out at the end.

“ It’s a family audience and we get to tackle some really, really serious issues”

part-time trainee has raised. As he explains: “I don’t think that part-time trainees always get the level of respect that full-time trainees get, because people assume that you’re lazy. And if you’re a media doctor, I’ve heard people say that maybe you are not good enough to be a normal doctor.” Not surprisingly, this does not reflect Dr

Ranj’s view of his own situation. “Going part-time has allowed me not only to continue the clinical part of my job, but also to play this other immensely important role that I’ve carved out. And although my training has extended

“Don’t just settle for the norm. You know, if

you have a passion for something, push for it, and be open to possibility. I’m not saying that everyone’s going to go out and try this media thing, because it isn’t for everybody. “But I hope I have managed to give people

the impression that, you know, you can have a laugh and have a career at the same time.”

Adam Campbell is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to MDDUS publications

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