Dr. Sarhad Najor started his residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan this summer. It has been a long road to residency indeed for Dr. Najor, who spent the past 17 years in Michigan but was born in Iraq.
We caught up with this young doctor to talk about why he found the small class sizes at UMHS helpful and his confidence in the Ross family’s excellent track record in medical education. We also discussed why he decided on a Med/Peds residency, his tips for making the most out of the Match process, and why he feels the time he spent at UMHS constituted the “best four years” of his life.
UMHS Endeavour: Tell us a little about yourself and where you are originally from.
Dr. Sarhad Najor: I was born in Iraq, from a small village named Tel-kef. We moved from Iraq to Greece when I was three years old, and stayed in the capital Athens for three years before we finally moved to the United States. For the past 17 years, my family has lived in Grand Blanc, Michigan.
Why did you decide to go to UMHS?
Deciding which medical school to attend was a challenging and difficult choice to make. After all, this is going to be the foundation of your basic medical education, and the school you will be representing for the rest of your life. I wanted to attend a medical school in which the class sizes were not too big, but yet has a proven record. UMHS at that time was a fairly new medical school. But because of Dr. Ross and Mr. Warren Ross’ background, I had great faith in attending UHMS. I knew they would move this medical school to the correct path based on their history with molding great medical schools.
Where are you doing your residency?
I interviewed at many residency hospitals, and I was very fortunate to land at my #1 choice, combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Hurley Medical Center, in Flint, MI.
What was the greatest thing about learning you matched?
It’s a nerve-racking chapter in your life, but at the same time, a very exciting chapter. During the two-to three months of your interviewing process, you will be traveling a lot, and to many different cities or states you’ve never been to. It’s a great time to take a step back, and enjoy the process. Really look at the program and ask yourself “Can I live and work here for the next 3+ years with these people?” Always rank your list based on your preference and not based on which you think the programs will rank you.
Is there anything in particular that interests you about your specialty?
At the beginning of my medical school career, my vision was to become a Pediatrician. But as I expanded my medical education, especially during my clinical rotations, I realized that not only do I love Pediatrics but I also love Internal Medicine. Meds/Peds is an uncommon residency program, one that I did not even know existed until I was looking for elective rotations to do for my fourth year of medical school. With combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, one can practice as a Primary Care physician, treating all ages of patients. Or one can pursue a fellowship in either Pediatrics or Internal Medicine. The road of opportunities in Med/Peds is endless, and that’s one of the particular reasons why I love this field.
What advice do you have for current UMHS students, and medical students in general, about the Match process?
Enjoy it! I cannot stress that enough. I know it’s a nail-biting process but try to take a step back and let it sink in for a second. Try to go and explore the beautiful cities you will be visiting during your interview. Also, rank your programs based on your preference, and not based on which you think you will Match. The system really tries to favors the applicant’s preference.
Was there anything specific about your medical education at UMHS and clinical rotations that prepared you well for matching?
Increase your chance of matching. This is best done by doing your elective rotations at as many different hospitals as possible. Don’t use all your elective rotations at one hospital. The more hospitals you rotate at, the more opportunities you will have to get an interview at that particular hospital. Also, while you’re rotating there, it’s okay to stop by the residency program’s director’s office and introduce yourself (after all, they’re the ones who decide who gets accepted in their program or not). Make a good impression during your rotation. Everyone will be grading you (from the MAs, to the nurses, to the residents, to the attendings).
Do you have any specific goals for your residency?
Try to become the best resident I can. The learning never finishes. This may include staying after hours to help out a collage or coming home and reading up on an interesting case I saw.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that we have not covered?
Your four years of medical school will fly by. You will develop life-long best friends while in medical school. I know those long nights of studying, preparing for exams isn’t easy. But in the end, it’ll be all worth it. These past four years have arguably been the best four years of my life so far, and they most likely will be yours as well when it’s all said and done.
Built in the tradition of the best U.S. universities, the University of Medicine and Health Sciences focuses on individualized student attention, small class sizes and recruiting high-quality faculty. For these reasons, UMHS is quickly becoming the school of choice among Caribbean medical schools.