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Miss England 2019, Bhasha Mukherjee, was in the middle of a humanitarian trip in India when the coronavirus pandemic surged around the globe. The 24-year-old junior doctor says she knew right away it was time to return to the United Kingdom and trade in her crown for a stethoscope.
"It wasn't a tough decision," Mukherjee told Fox News on Tuesday. "I've been to Africa, Turkey, and India was the first of the Asian countries I was going to travel to. After India, I had several other countries that had to be cut short because of obviously the coronavirus. I knew the best place for me would be back at the hospital."
Mukherjee graduated from the University of Nottingham just two weeks before she was crowned Miss England in August. One day after winning the title, she began her first day at work at Pilgrim Hospital Boston-Lincolnshire before traveling to the Miss World pageant late last year.
From there, the beauty queen admitted she had "sort of a dream summer" planned that was jam-packed with sponsored charity trips to Sri Lanka, Barbados, Gibraltar and more. But as the death rate continued to climb, Mukherjee was getting word from her colleagues back home that there was a pressing need for medical workers -- and fast.
"That's what initiated me to return to work in the first place," Mukherjee said, adding that she always had plans to return to her medical career this August.
"Two or three weeks ago I was hearing about these really long shifts and that my colleagues were covering various parts of the hospital and taking on responsibilities we didn't have before. I really wanted to join in the task force right away."
As far as working on the front line, the pageant winner says she does have some fears before she jumps back into the emergency room in a couple of weeks.
"I don't know if I'm psychologically ready for the death toll and if patients do pass, how do you detach yourself without blaming yourself? Those are the thoughts that are going through my mind," she said.
She has also begun a petition urging for National Health Service (NHS) staff to receive at least a 50 percent discount in housing costs, as she's learned hospital accommodations cost double her previous rent.
What's keeping the 24-year-old's morale high are the many well-wishes she's received from her social media followers, as well as a vow to herself to continue practicing mindfulness.
"It's scientifically proven when you do an act of kindness it activates the happy sensor in your brain. It's a whole different feeling of being able to sit next to someone, give them that support and to feel needed. Those were the biggest reasons for me as to why I went into the medical field," Mukherjee added.
She also shared her gratitude for her social media followers who have sent "many well-wishes" along her journey.
"Thank you for the attention, love, and support. I think more of this should be happening. For anyone reading this, if you know a doctor or a key worker, just reach out to them and tell them thank you. This started happening to me before I even got back to the United Kingdom. It really makes a big difference in terms of morale for key workers," she added.
The junior doctor has plans to specialize as a general practitioner in family medicine when she finishes training in two years.