Self-portrait of Norwich doctor wins acclaim for showing reality for NHS staff

Lena Ibrahim's self-portrait liked by thousands Credit: Lena Ibrahim

A self-portrait of a junior doctor that illustrates life on the front line has gone viral.

Lena Ibrahim from Hethersett near Norwich painted the self-portrait as part of a Royal Society of Portrait Painters' competition. It shows her immediately after finishing a late shift at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. 

"I just wanted to capture that vulnerability", she said. "It's me in my doctor's mess. It was such a busy day and it was the first chance I'd had to sit down. I wanted to show a doctor in their natural environment with their guard let down."

Dr Ibrahim posted a photo of the artwork on Twitter and within hours it had gone viral with almost 23,000 likes and thousands of comments and retweets from all across the world. 

"I've gone from 79 followers to over 2,000 in less than 12 hours", the doctor said. "I've just been overwhelmed with the reaction. I didn't expect it to get so much recognition. I'm really grateful to everyone for the kind comments."

Dr Ibrahim said her painting was a form of escapism from her busy job Credit: ITV News Anglia
The painting shows Dr Ibrahim at the end of a busy shift Credit: ITV News Anglia

Dr Ibrahim has only recently qualified as a doctor and is on rotation, working long hours. She said art is a form of escapism.

"The job is tiring and stressful. And it's important to have something to switch off with. My art for me is way of reflecting on that."

The doctor has painted several series of portraits including of her colleagues at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and her family, embracing her British Iraqi heritage.

Dr Ibrahim has painted a series of portraits of her colleagues Credit: Lena Ibrahim

Dr Ibrahim hopes to carry on her artwork alongside her hospital work and is already getting requests for commissions to paint more portraits.

Dr Ibrahim has already had requests for more portrait commissions Credit: Lena Ibrahim