My name is Iman, and I just started the third year of my pediatric endocrinology fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital. I consider myself a global citizen, as I grew up in two countries on different continents: Saudi Arabia and the United States (California, Illinois, and Texas). I had two loving, highly educated parents who worked as university professors and valued the power of education.
From a young age, they exposed me to different cultures, viewpoints and experiences. Attending medical school in Riyadh, a pediatric residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and now a fellowship in Houston has expanded my horizons and given me a diverse perspective on medicine and life. I am grateful for all the challenges and successes that I have experienced during my journey as I followed my passion in medicine (and specifically in pediatric endocrinology).
Why endocrinology? A neurology professor once asked me that question to persuade me to consider his specialty: “You left the entire mesmerizing brain and pursued a tiny structure dangling at the base of it?” I answered, “Well, if that tiny structure decides to stop working, good luck to the mesmerizing brain in surviving!” Endocrinology fulfilled my passion for science and human connection. I admire the complex pathophysiology, yet good clinical outcomes in endocrinology that allow us to follow children and see them flourishing into young adulthood.
I have a particular interest in type 1 diabetes, especially among preschool children. My interest began with encounters during my first year of fellowship training, where I was humbled by the emotional struggles of the parents of toddlers facing T1D diagnosis and its caregiving demands. I was inspired to find ways to help, so I focused on building a strong clinical experience with this population under my clinical mentors’ expertise and sought mentorship from Dr. Marisa Hilliard to conduct clinical behavioral research focused on parental sleep and fear of developing hypoglycemia in their children with diabetes. I am grateful for Dr. Hilliard’s mentorship in fostering my growing passion for understanding the behavioral aspects of diabetes care and how I, as a future diabetologist, can support my patients and their families.
I have followed a nontraditional path in my pediatric endocrinology fellowship, during which I integrated another passion of mine, teaching and education, and focused my scholarly pursuits in academic medicine. I am currently a 2021 candidate in the University of Houston’s medical education master’s degree program, and my interests and research are mainly in advancing learner engagement and clinical reasoning through active learning. I designed and implemented a project that explores the impact of active learning on critical thinking and developed an active case-based learning curriculum to teach pediatric residents the fundamentals of diabetes. I am grateful to Dr. Stephanie Sisley, my research mentor, for enriching my fellowship experience and inspiring me to build my own path and combine my passions for T1D and medical education.
I have been blessed with great mentors and educators throughout all stages of my medical training. Their support and dedication cultivated who I am as a physician and scholar. I am eternally grateful to each of them, and I hope to give back to medicine by following in their footsteps and building on the foundation they created. Writing this brief spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic and times of turbulent news encourages me to end on a positive note by sharing a quote from one of my favorite writers Paulo Coelho: “In dire times you can lose joy, but you can’t lose hope. Hope is your guide.” I am hopeful that, together, we build and bring a brighter future to this world.