I was born in Tehran in 1974 just before the revolution. One night in 1978 I remember being very frightened. My mother had gathered us into her bedroom and we were to sleep there. She got us up in the middle of the night and we were told to be very quiet. Everyone was afraid. We got into a car and drove to the airport, arriving in Geneva.Read Less
We moved to Canada in March of 84. I was eleven. Regarding my schooling. They decided to send me to Trafalgar Castle School.
When the time came to go to university, I chose McGill. It’s a great place to go to school on so many levels. It’s not just a university town. There is so much going on there. Of course, I wasted my entire first year in the usual way. I had a lot of fun.
In my undergrad I did anatomy and cell biology with a minor in French literature. As well, I enjoyed French cinema. The pleasure of studying French was that it allowed me to use a completely different part of my brain. It allowed a kind of thinking that I couldn’t access in science.
For medical school I chose the University of Ottawa. I was accepted at University of Toronto too. UofT accepted 250 students and Ottawa only 100. I decided Ottawa fit my ethos more and suited my style of learning.
Students start in the hospitals as clinical clerks, but it was the first day of my internship that I remember the best. I had come to Queens to begin my residency.
July 1, 1999. Oh my god. Oh my god! There is no safety net at that point. Your orders for a patient will be processed and it’s not as though you know anymore than you did the day before, but that day they were going to do what you say. They were going to follow your directions. That day, it counted. So I was keenly aware of it. We all were that day.
That first day ended. It was July 1st and was super sunny and hot. After work I went out with a bunch of the first years. We were all relieved to get through the day. The relief, overall though, was that I understood I was going to be able to do this…ok…that probably didn’t really happen until September, but that feeling began that day. Finally, in my third year I did a rotation in the Intensive Care Unit. It was then, after I cleared the ICU, that I really knew I could do it, without at doubt. It’s hard to explain. The ICU refines the way you see patients. I now know sick from not sick just by looking at them. I can now tell their approximate state of health by all sorts of visual clues.
Then I did a rotation in the ER. Two classmates and I happened to be the first to respond to a code. My classmates panicked and for some reason, I became calm and lucid. The more serious the situation became, the more calm, I became. I knew at that moment this was the right thing for me. I like the variety and the demands in the ER. The patients can be critically ill, or not ill at all. Every socio-economic group comes in. Resuscitation is something I do well and a big ER requirement. As well, I like that at the end of eight hours, I can go home.
There are a lot of big stories. The life-saving moments are actually few and far between, but those are great. We had one this week. A woman coded in the waiting room. Of course it was terrible for her family. Television doesn’t prepare a person for seeing their loved one being worked on. They had a lot of trouble watching it, but we did save her. The next day she was sitting up and talking in her bed. I introduced myself and told her I was her Emergency Physician. She apologized for not remembering me. I told her,
“I’m not surprised. You were dead at the time.”
Advice to girls who think they might want to be mds
You have to work hard. I just worked really hard. I still work really hard.
You also have to ask yourself why you want to do it. It’s something that a person really must examine closely. Sometimes, if a kid is smart and does well in science, it’s just seen as the natural route. Sometimes people do it to make money, but there are easier ways to make money. To really be a good doctor you have to love the science and you have to love the interactions. You have to want to help people.
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
I stopped planning the day my mother was hit by a car.
If I’m here and it’s exactly the same, it’s totally fine.
I have a great job. I love my job. It’s the Holy Grail to have a job you really like.
I have a really great family and an excellent core of great friends.
Three or four of my closest friends are Trafalgar friends.
More of this is great.