Dr. Arsalan Hamid is a PGY-2 resident, native of Pakistan, and newly married to incoming intern Saleha Aziz. Here, he shares his path to UMMC, memorable moments from training, and a few photos that capture life inside and outside of the hospital.
Why did you choose UMMC for residency?
Without a doubt, it was the people. I still remember my pre-interview dinner and the vibe I got within the first hour. I stepped into a group of people and saw an intern was joking around with a chief resident. I saw everyone was speaking with one another, regardless of whatever year they were. I realized there really was no sense of hierarchy and everyone was really united. I absolutely loved the culture and knew I had to be a part of it!
Even above that, the leadership were so approachable! I remember I was offered a cup of espresso in my interview. We literally just chatted over a cup of coffee. Like where does that happen! I felt everyone wanted to know me as a person. I felt welcomed from even before day 1 and that was really all I needed to know this is a place where my skills will be nurtured, where I’ll be trained well, and be taken care of.
Tell us about a memorable experience from training.
It was my 2nd week as an intern. I was admitting a young patient who was in a MVA and was found to have a right sided stroke with left sided deficits. The stroke was thought to have occurred after the MVA. It was unclear as to why she lost control of her car. I tried to take as thorough a history as possible and found she felt she couldn’t lift her right foot (opposite to the foot with stroke deficits) from the accelerator pedal to hit the brakes. She had normal function of her right foot at the time of my exam so we did an EEG and found she had focal epileptiform discharges from her left hemisphere, which was the real reason she was not able to lift her foot from the accelerator. We started her on Keppra for that and she eventually went for acute rehab.
This was the day I learned to trust my instincts and my knowledge. I learned a good history goes a long way and if something doesn’t fit, ask why. Many of the self-doubts I walked in with as an intern, went away that day.
What is one thing you would tell the incoming interns about what is to come?
Residency can be challenging at times. However, that is the time you will grow the most. So embrace those moments, you will look back at them and be proud of where you are now. As Dr. Thigpen would say “Play the next point”.
Whenever you face a challenging moment, reach out to your upper levels. I can’t emphasize this enough, THERE ARE NO STUPID QUESTIONS! If you ever hesitate to ask a question, remember that your upper levels have been there and will NEVER think twice before helping you out in any way possible.
What could you give a presentation on with absolutely no preparation?
Basketball, I love the sport. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and has a lot of history. I’ve been watching and playing the sport all my life. I’m a huge Los Angeles Lakers fan and more than anything, a huge Kobe Bryant fan. Go Lakers!
How has COVID-19 changed the way you practice medicine?
Patients admitted with COVID pneumonia remain in isolated rooms away from their friends and family. Even at times due to nationwide staffing shortages, healthcare workers are limited in the amount of time they can spend in a room with the patient. I’ve learned to give patients with COVID some extra time to talk and ask what’s on their mind and if there’s something other than medical problems that they want to discuss.
Furthermore, as a health system, at times we label COVID as the cause of many atypical symptoms in patients with COVID. Thus, I’ve learned to specially broaden my differentials in such patients to make sure there isn’t a secondary pathology resulting in the patients medical complaints. It’s always worthwhile to give such patients a little extra attention.
What are some small things that make your day better?
Having dinner with my wife while we watch a show or just talk about our day.
Where could we find you when you are not at the hospital?
Trying out a new restaurant out with my wife or hanging out with my friends at Fondren Public, the bowling alley, Cultivation, or hitting up a new restaurant.
What profession would you have chosen if you weren’t a physician? A software engineer. I love technology and would love to be able to build things in a virtual world. Code and logic never lie.