Breaking Barriers: Dr. Abdulwahed Zainel

‘Nurture a country by nurturing its youth’

Growing up, engineering seemed to be the main aspirational goal for my friends and family; the idea of creating and constructing excited them. They took pride in building their nation. But it got me thinking, ‘We can build a nation, but who’s going to keep it healthy?’

So, going against the grain, I became a doctor. It may not sound like a drastic change of career but, for me, it was the most meaningful way I could think of contributing to my nation.

My acceptance into Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar opened a door of opportunity for me. I got to learn from the brightest minds in the field; people who further exposed me to great resources, research opportunities, and a better understanding of the healthcare infrastructure in Qatar. All of these shaped my career choices. Cornell (use after third paragraph)

The most defining moment, though, happened in my final year. I was completing my rotation in the Department of Pediatrics at Hamad Medical Corporation when I came across a nine-month-old baby boy. He had a problem with his cardiac muscles that affected his development – but we were unaware of it at that time.

The boy reminded me of my son, who was roughly the same age back then. I grew quite attached to him, investing in his care, diagnosis and cure. That was when it dawned on me that the best way to nurture my nation was to nurture it’s future – its youth.

I now work as a Pediatric Chief Resident at Sidra. Every day, I go to work and interact with sick children and their anxious parents. I work with teams to diagnose challenging cases. Throughout all this, I am reminded of the importance of having active and driven doctors in our society who can relate to their patients. It all comes down to representation. Sidra (use after 6th paragraph)

As a kid, I was exposed to amazing physicians whose knowledge of their respective field was awe-inspiring – but they were not Qataris. While I got amazing treatment, there were cultural barriers that prevented me from developing a connection with them.

Now, as a Qatari doctor, I feel those barriers breaking down when Qatari patients walk in to my clinic.

They are elated. They express themselves freely, knowing I can understand and relate to their culture, background, family and language. The relationship that a patient develops with their doctor is central to the treatment plan. Everything – the care, the diagnosis, and the outcome – are all more effective, as a result of this connection.

Medicine is not easy. You need to have a genuine interest in the field if you want to be successful in it. I would never encourage someone to pursue medicine if that was not what they wanted.

That said, we do need more Qatari doctors in our community. Our youth are growing in number every day, and we need a group of strong healthcare practitioners who are motivated enough to dedicate their lives to nurturing these youngsters.

I have challenged myself with this task. I want more of us to do the same.