The path leading up to this point in my career has not been easy. My goal at times seemed almost unattainable. My life has been a story of resilience, disappointments, and hope. I grew up in Iran as a member of a religious minority. I was only five when I first said I wanted to become a doctor, and my passion for becoming a physician has not changed ever since. I excelled at sciences in high school but I was not allowed to go to university, because the Iranian government has been banning all higher education to the members of my faith. I could not let my dream evaporate in front of my eyes. I was confronted with the choice of leaving my family behind to pursue my dream.
Without any financial support, I left Iran at age nineteen. Leaving my home and family behind at a relatively young age and building a new life in a foreign country while learning a new language and culture were extremely challenging. My personal experiences and knowing what I wanted to do with my life gave me the strength to start my undergraduate and English studies shortly after my arrival to the USA in 1998 despite any constructive guidance.
As a premed student at community college and university of California, volunteered in free clinics sponsored at the university along with working to support myself financially. After earning my bachelor degree at the University of California, I attended Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica to pursue my dream. I passed USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and CS. I graduated in 2009, obtained ECFMG certification and have been applying to residency programs across the country without any success.
After graduation and no residency, I applied to over 1000 jobs from cashier to research, as I had to support myself financially. I was on the verge of becoming homeless while holding an M.D. and carrying $240,000 in student loans. Finally, I got a job offer for a research position at Stanford school of medicine in 2009. I took advantage of the opportunities at Stanford medical center and besides 40 hours work in the research department and writing papers; I devoted volunteering at a cardiology clinic to keep up with my patient skills. In 2011, the research project ended and before I knew it, I was unemployed and back in the circle of applying for a job along with a residency application.
So now I have a Bachelor of Science degree, Medical degree, research, and clinical experience, facing private student loan company emails and phone calls, no job, and no interview for any job for almost 2 years. Many times, thoughts of suicide, shame, anger, and disappointment clouded my mind. But I never gave up. Although unemployed, I volunteered at patient rehabilitation centers in California and attended free medical seminars, and earned CME credits online.
One more time in December of 2012, I was confronted to be on the line of homelessness, this time I only had one unemployment check left. During almost 2 years of unemployment, I applied to 10,0000 jobs. Finally, just when the last unemployment check deposited; I got an opportunity to teach as a teacher assistant and 6 months after was promoted to a faculty.
I have been working hard for my passion, I sacrificed visiting my loved ones in Iran since I left my country. I have been investing all my time for my passion and lost many precious times with my lovely parents. In 2015, I faced one of the most painful experiences in one’s life, the passing of my beloved mother in her early 60s who lived in Iran. I have started from zero and earned my medical degree at a very expensive and painful cost. All I am left with the knowledge that I cannot practice outside of my home, wasted the best age of my life with $300,000 in federal student loans, financial and emotional pain, along with being socially withdrawn.
Our country is facing a shortage of primary care while someone like me can not wait to wear the face-mask, put on a face shield and work 20 hours a day to be there and help and practice medicine. A physician is who I am, I cannot become something else. An MD is designed to practice medicine, otherwise, that degree is under-qualified or overqualified. The greatest country in the world the United States of America cannot afford to waste educated resources, physicians like me who can be helpful to its own people.