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Fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology, Saudi

In my experience, few people find a profession that enables them to apply their natural skills and also satisfies their highest aspirations. Pediatric cardiology has provided me with this combination, and I feel blessed. Since the first time that I used a stethoscope during clinical rotations, I have been especially fascinated with those subtle sounds of the heart that allow us to discern and identify structural pathologies. I quickly developed a perfect ‘ear’ for the clues those sounds provide and knew that I would seek a future in cardiology. My interest in treating child heart patients was fired towards the end of my training and matured during the internship. A sick, totally dependent, and vulnerable little patient with parents wearing anxiety-filled faces provides a uniquely heart-rending scene. I know that not every physician can handle the substantial emotional component that is involved in exclusively treating very sick children. However, I was confident that I could, and I could not see a better way to live my life than to do so. Because of my exceptional results, I was given a choice of scholarship and had no hesitation in choosing pediatric cardiology.

 In 2007, I began work in the Pediatrics Department of the King Abdul Aziz University Hospital in Jeddah and subsequently joined the Saudi Training Board of Pediatrics. I was the only one of my ‘intake’ to pass the MRCPCh final exam in 2010, one year ahead of schedule.

 The setting was that of a busy teaching hospital located near the entry port for the many thousands of Hajj pilgrims. Consequently, my residency exposed me to an astonishing variety of cases and provided an ideal learning environment. Among many things, I discovered, to my delight, was that ‘preterms’ in special care units do not break if touched. I also learned to quietly absorb the angry bewilderment of a father who knew that one of the side effects of chemotherapy for leukemia was a cardio-toxic one that resulted in an ejection fraction of 13%, and this is in a country where cardiac transplant programs are not available. This experience has been of enormous value in my professional and personal development.

 I have also been involved in teaching and enjoy sharing my knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm. The look on the face of a student who has finally understood the point being made is uniquely satisfying, and I look forward to this sight often in my career. My particular research interests are pulmonary hypertension and molecular cardiology.

 I am very aware of the particular need for cultural sensitivity in healthcare. Though born in Saudi Arabia, I lived in the United States for eight years during my childhood and look forward to returning. I have happily studied, worked, and socialized with people of many different cultural and social backgrounds.

 My goals are to broaden my knowledge and skills in a highly challenging program, to undertake meaningful research, and, ultimately, to return to my country and launch a comprehensive cardiology program that includes electrophysiology service and cardiac transplant.

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