“The situation was worsening back home and my colleagues needed help,” she said in an interview with The Post, adding that thousands of retired doctors had returned to work around the world because of the pandemic.
So on April 1, Mukherjee, 24, packed up her crown and gowns and flew home to Britain, where she is now in quarantine until early next week, when she reports for work at Pilgrim Hospital as a junior doctor.
“I don't know exactly which ward I will be assigned to yet, but I'm willing to do whatever is needed,” she said. “As a doctor, I couldn't imagine staying away. ”
Mukherjee had just graduated with a medical degree from the University of Nottingham last year when friends talked her into entering the 2019 Miss England competition. Although she had experience as a model, she did not expect to win, she said.
“I got into it because of peer pressure, and then suddenly, on the night before I was to start [my job] as a junior doctor at Pilgrim Hospital, I won,” she said. “So I decided to put my medical career on hold for a while and focus on being Miss England and doing charity work for one year.”
She had planned to return to her job in August, but after hearing from her colleagues about hospital wards overflowing with patients who have covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and watching television news footage about the toll in Britain, she knew she had to be at the hospital.
As a child growing up in the city of Derby, two hours north of London in the Midlands, Mukherjee said she never had ambitions of wearing a stethoscope. “I didn’t play doctor — I pretended to be an actor or model,” she said.
But as she grew older and began volunteering in nursing homes, Mukherjee said, she realized she was suited to a career that required a love of helping others.
“I consider myself a good listener, and I love to study people,” she said. “I decided that a medical career would be a good fit. Medicine is a lot like solving a puzzle, and I like that."
After winning the Miss England title, though, she figured that medicine could wait while she worked as a global ambassador and role model for young people. She was visiting orphanages and nursing homes in India for the Coventry Mercia Lions Club when the pandemic hit Britain hard.
With thousands of deaths recorded in Britain, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson hospitalized with the disease, it was time to set her crown aside.
“I want to do my part,” she said.
This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Derby, England.
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