Interview: Life of an ER doctor in Syria!

Have you ever wondered what’s it like being a doctor in Syria? I had the pleaser to interview Abdul Karim. Abdul Karim is an ER doctor who was born in AlShariqah, United Arab Emirates. After living in Shariqah for few years, his family went back to their homeland, Syria and lived there ever since. Several years later, after the war started in Syria, Abdul Karim had to relocate to Turkey. At the time, he was a student in University, so he had to continue his studies there in Turkey. More interestingly, he received his Turkish citizenship few years later and became officially Turkish. On a personal level, I knew Karim for few years now and I’ve always wanted to make an interview with him due to his interesting story.

So, without further ado, here is my interview with Abdul Karim..

First, we would like to know more about you, Who is Karim? What was your childhood like? and who are you now?

Sure! My name is Abdul Karim. Syrian/ Turkish ER doctor living in Turkey. As a person, I was an introvert most of my childhood and I loved reading books specially novels and history books. My personality however changed dramatically after high school. At University, I had the opportunity to meet several people, and that helped me to get outside of my comfort zone very much and develop into the person I am now. Thanks to my friends, I became extrovert and more social than I was before. My interests and hobbies were also influenced by the type of people I was with, especially after moving to Turkey. I think Turkish society is more open than the somehow conservative Arab society I used to live in back in Syria. Thus, it allowed me to experience life differently and be more open in general.

What differences you noticed in Syria after all these years? What things you want to change? and what things you would like to keep?

I have noticed pain, sadness and devastation. Syria, the country I left, was a happy one. People were together, now it feels like everyone can’t trust the other person. If I could do any changes, it would like to see love and acceptance regardless of differences, trust and respect instead of isolation and segregation between communities. Still, everything in this country brings nostalgia to me. I miss social life and family celebrations. I miss my family’s house and winter vibes when we used to gather around the fireplace or heat bread on the heater! I honestly have a belief that regardless of all of the difficulties this country has gone through, I know it will recover and become stronger and more powerful than before. This is not a dream nor a wish, it is a belief! On the other hand, there are many amazing things in Syria such as history and diversity. Syria is rich in history since the beginning of human existence and the establishments of multiple ancient kingdoms and states. You can see evidence of all of this through historical buildings and sightseeing in many spots in the country. There is religious diversity in Syria as well. So, I would love to keep all of this and see people coexist and thrive again as they were doing the past!

Have you always wanted to be an ER doctor? why?

No, I haven’t! I was always interested in Information Technology (IT) and coding! As I mentioned, I was an introvert when I was young, and the idea of working in jobs related to interacting with people brought me anxiety. I only did it for my mother because her dream was to study medicine, yet she wasn’t able to fulfill this dream, I am glad I did though. I am realizing how honorable and humanitarian this profession is, now.

An interesting question is how would you spend your time now despite your busy schedule?

I don’t have a stable working schedule. Each day has its own routine and schedule, but if I had the time, I’m most likely spending it reading. As I said, I love reading novels! Recently, I have been fascinated by novels related to historical events such as war stories or biographies.

Were there any regrets after becoming a physician?

Of course, there were! When I was a student, I was the kind of students who prefers to understand information rather than memorizing it. So, it was challenging to memorize human anatomy, specifically during my first three years. I was more into science courses in high school such as mathematics and physics. Hence, that was probably my biggest regrets, going into medical school.

Now, what is the best part of being a physician, from you own experience?

The best part of being a doctor for me was the responsibility of it and how humanitarian this job is. For example, I remember a story of a 16 years old lady who had sharp pain in her leg. We found later out that the issue was she had cancer in the bone. The responsibility a doctor has when delivering the news to patients and their families is indescribable. We have to inform them with honesty in the kindest way possible. I remember when the lady’s father entered my office. He seemed a successful man in every way, yet after I told him about his daughter’s health situation, it was hurting to see sadness in his eyes as if nothing he had seemed to matter anymore. I had to do everything I can to help them. A doctor’s job is exceedingly difficult, emotionally and physically. Yet we normally don’t have many options and we have to perform as of our best abilities. Of course, at the end it is god’s will and everything in life follows according to his will.

Finally, what advice would you give to people who are interested in joining medical school?

Patience! You have to be patient and willing to sacrifice so much for this profession! You must have passion and love for it, otherwise you may not be fit for it. You should be empathetic and understanding as well and has at least basic social skills to know how to communicate with patients.

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