WHEN Doctor Punam Krishan shared details of an exchange between a patient and receptionist earlier this year, the Glasgow-born GP never expected how much it would resonate with people around the world.

The brief transcript, which Dr Krishan posted on Twitter, read: "Patient: 'I don't want an Asian doctor.' Receptionist: 'She is Scottish.' Patient: 'She doesn't look Scottish.' Receptionist: 'What do Scottish people look like?' Silence. Appointment card taken. So proud of my team."

The tweet went viral and Dr Krishan, 36, received messages from as far afield as Argentina, Colombia, Ghana, India, Canada and Australia. Six months later, she remains blown away by the reaction.

"It had an engagement of 5.6 million impressions across the world," she says. "I didn't expect it to be as global. It was such an overwhelmingly positive response."

Dr Krishan, who works as a GP in the East End of Glasgow, has gained a raft of followers who enjoy her warmth, candour and thought-provoking posts on social media where she is an impassioned proponent about the importance of kindness.

"I always say to my medical students and trainees that learning the science is the easy bit," she says. "We can learn from textbooks, absorb the knowledge and spout that out. But it means nothing if it is not delivered with compassion and care."

It is a theme we come back to several times in our conversation. Hearing Dr Krishan talk about her love of being a GP, it is hard to believe she almost never took that path.

The eldest of two daughters, she grew up in Glasgow and describes herself as being "raised on curry and Irn Bru". Her Indian-born parents arrived from Punjab in the late 1970s. "We grew up in my dad's corner shop," she says. "It was ingrained in us that education was the key to freedom. You were either going to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or a failure."

Medicine became an early front-runner thanks to her childhood family GP. "He was very much a role model for me from a young age because he was the core of our community," she says. "Everyone knew that if Dr Kauser saw them, they would be OK."

A seed was planted for the future Dr Krishan. "I loved the idea of being able to help and heal people in a community setting," she says. "I admired him and knew education was a must, but then I hit school and everything I loved was wildly different to the sciences.

"I enjoyed history and language and music and drama. I wanted to study English Lit, but I was edged into choosing medicine. My mum couldn't understand why I wanted to study English or drama."

READ MORE: Why we love Glasgow's street art

Her mother would regularly walk past the University of Glasgow, gaze longingly at its towering spire and tell her daughters that they would one day study there. "It was almost like she manifested it," says Dr Krishan, a smile in her voice.

"It was one of her unfinished dreams. My mum had an arranged marriage. She was going to study medicine in India but couldn't because she came to Scotland to be married. Both my sister and I went to the University of Glasgow to study medicine. We are both GPs in Glasgow."

On paper it sounds like a picture-perfect life trajectory, yet Dr Krishan reveals that in her teens, there was a point when she went off the rails.

"I was a nightmare for my mum and dad," she recalls. "Growing up, I was confused about where I truly belonged. Our summer holidays were always spent in India. I had very much my Indian existence at home, but all my friends were Caucasian.

"There were a lot of restrictions and being told: 'You can't do this; you can't do that – what will the aunties think?' which I found frustrating. I was always testing the boundaries. I got into trouble at school and was suspended on a couple of occasions.

"When I failed all my exams in third year – I got straight sevens in my Standard Grades – my mum said she was going to send me to India to finish my studies. She had lost hope. I was given one last chance to turn it around. That was a wake-up call."

Dr Krishan, who attended Notre Dame High School, knuckled down and achieved the grades to study medicine. "It was after I became a doctor that I started to feel liberated," she attests. "Then I really felt my wings unclipped after I became a mum."

The birth of her son Aarish, now six, provided another watershed moment. "I ended up on a ventilator in intensive care," she says. "My family were told that I didn't have long to live. What happened to me was a complete out-the-blue crisis point in life that gives you a scare."

She had suffered a postpartum haemorrhage. "It was a freak, bleed-out episode," explains Dr Krishan. "I went into heart and lung failure, developed clotting issues and widespread sepsis."

Afterwards, Dr Krishan experienced a life-changing epiphany. "Everybody around me tried to medicalise me," she says. "Everything was about 'maybe you need this tablet', when actually all I wanted was support and space to heal. I didn't want drugs to do that.

"I started exercising and eating food to nourish myself inside and out. It is amazing what insights being on the other side of that desk can give you. I returned to work a completely different doctor."

Holistic care is something Dr Krishan regularly applies in her work as a GP. "I see a lot of poverty and patients living in social isolation, as well as drug misuse. It is quite a challenging population but equally it is a place where you can really make a big difference.

"Around 70 to 80 per cent of the things I see as a GP are lifestyle-related medical problems. It has become my passion to focus more on the lifestyle habits that people form, rather than just the 10-minute appointment model which is: 'How can I get you in and out? Can I give you a drug?'"

She takes her patients on "Lidl walks" to share tips on what foods to avoid and how to make healthier choices. Last year, Dr Krishan and a colleague set up Glasgow Wellbeings, a public group where they share their "health hacks", which has grown to more than 400 members.

Dr Krishan is married to a fellow GP. "He started off as an orthopaedic surgeon, but you can't live with me and not become a GP," she jokes. Her enthusiasm is clearly infectious, then. "I would sell it in a jar if I could."

She is currently writing a children's health book and will make her presenting debut in a forthcoming BBC Scotland medical documentary series due out later this year. Dr Krishan also hopes to pen a memoir about her experiences working as a GP.

"My dream is to write books to help as many people as I can through informed and reflective storytelling in a bid to inspire and empower them along their wellness journeys. I want to bring my Eastern heritage and the wisdom that holds into my scientific Western practice."

READ MORE: Why we love Glasgow's street art

The traditional role of a doctor advocates an evidence-based scientific approach to clinical care. It is important to maintain professional boundaries, yet Dr Krishan strongly believes that patients need compassion too.

Such as instinctively hugging a patient who had been diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer. Two weeks later, after the man passed away, his family visited her to say thank you and tell her how much that hug had meant to him.

"Life has been kind to me in that it has taught me lessons – sometimes in the most brutal ways," she says. "I have been the vulnerable mum and I have ageing parents, so I understand the pain that brings. I have also lived as a troubled teenager trying to find my identity.

"With this man who was dying of cancer, I was helpless. There was nothing I could do. He knew that and I could see the fear in his eyes. It just felt so intuitive [to hug him] because if that was my father or grandfather, I would have wanted somebody to reach out and say: 'It's OK, I'm here for you.'"

Follow Dr Punam Krishan on Twitter and Instagram at @DrPunamKrishan