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Monday, October 18, 2010

Doctors Are In For The Money!

I was recently reading an article at KevinMD, about doctors, that they are in for the money. Well I thought, to give you some perspective, I should list the jobs that I have done in my life, during my transition years.

In Pakistan I already finished my training after post graduation and I was running my own practice. However, once in the US I needed to do this all over again, so I was waiting to restart this process. The problem was that this cycle takes a year before you can get a position. So, I had about 18 months to kill. When I came to America, I did research with Dr. Harvey Priesler and Dr. Azra Raza, two of the smartest people I know in the field of Leukemia and Myelodysplastic disorders. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience but on the flip side the stipend that I earned only covered my studio rent in Chicago.

So I started to look for other jobs. I started my quest, beginning with trying to get off of a forced-vegetarian diet i.e., one of the cheapest meal prepared with garbanzo beans and diced tomato which takes only few minutes to cook. A friend of mine (who is now a high-risk Obstetrician in Detroit) tagged along and we stared to look for jobs. Our first stop was a pizza place. We filled out an application. There was a slot in there about education; we were naive enough to mention our qualification. They turned us down due to lack of relevant experience. My friend tried to argue that if he can deliver a baby, he can deliver a pizza without any problem. We lost the argument when the owner said that this oven works in a different way.

Finally I found a spot at a pizza joint. I delivered pizza for 3 weeks. It was the most stressful job I ever held. I used to park my antique car (my father bought me that car) in downtown Chicago and run up to deliver pizzas. The problem was that I got so many parking tickets that the net revenues were in the negative. After getting mugged and punched in the belly I was forced by my wife to quit that job.

Next stop, Chinese take out restaurant. I think the owner did not appreciate my talent. He kept on asking me to cut the vegetables faster and faster. I tried telling him that you can not be hasty, cooking is an art. He did not agree and I was given a pink slip along with garlic chicken on my way out.

Finally I found a job which I kept for over a year, carpet cleaning. I use to do high tech leukemia research with different clinical protocols in the morning and in the evening I use to clean carpets in the dead winter of Chicago. In fact the job was so “lucrative” that some of my other friends joined in too. One of them is now an Interventional Radiologist in Wisconsin and another one a Critical care Intensivist in Phoenix.  I will let you in a secret; I can still clean the carpets with floor stripping better than many, just do not tell my wife.

As I was diligently doing these two jobs I received a call from a program at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard about an off cycle radiology position. They asked me to be there in 2 days. The problem was that I only had $280 in my account which would not have paid for the whole plane trip and stay. I told them I am busy for the next 2 days I can be there in 3 days. 

Greyhound used to take 28 hours from Chicago to Boston.  I got in a bus within 12 hours and made my way to Longwood Avenue in 28 hours, changed into a suit at a restaurant at Fenway park. It was a very humbling experience to be cleaning floors one day and standing at Harvard Medical School the next. Finally I got this position, during my stay there I learned so much from Dr. Sughra Raza, Dr. Janet Baum and Dr. Brook Longwood. They all made a significant impact on my professional life. My career started to shape up from there one..... and here I am.

Well so there it is, you be the judge.

About the picture:  Not mine!


Faheema said...

Carpet cleaning huh? I guess that explains why you have no carpet what so ever in your house.

Love your blogs!!!

Raza said...

Nice story, for everyone to learn valuable lessons from it. One lesson I always learn from stories like yours or of a hardworking person that “hard work does not kill”.
As for the carpet cleaning, I have few carpets to clean if you want to make few extra bucks… I won’t even tell your wife… (just joking).
I’m happy that you succeeded in achieving your goals after all that hard work.
By the way, I know Dr. Azra Raza and her wonderful family from way back. Her father Late Irtiza Raza Zaidi, after retiring from Govt. service, was writing a copy of Quran with golden ink. In one of our visits, as teenager, to his house he showed us few pages. I wonder if he had a chance to complete it or not.

Raj said...

Hats off !!

Anonymous said...

very inspiring indeed