Ever wondered what motivates doctors to write? The answers may surprise you. Welcome to Medika’s author interviews with some of our more prolific authors. These professionals have been kind enough to allow us a glimpse into their lives as they share what motivates them, why medicine is important to them and how they view the writing process.
Dr. Hesham A. Hassaballa is a NY Times featured Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine specialist in clinical practice for over 20 years. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Sleep Medicine. He is a prolific writer, with dozens of peer-reviewed scientific articles and medical blog posts. He is a Physician Leader, published author and Medika is very fortunate to enjoy the benefits of his experience as editor of Medika’s articles on cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Tell us a little about yourself Hesham. Where were you born and do you still live in your birth country? Tell us a little about your family and what made you choose your current field.
I was born and raised in the United States. I still live in the US with my wife and four children. Ever since I was a little boy, my dream was to become a physician. While many joke about living the dream, I am truly living my dream. From early on in my medical training, I’ve always loved Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
It gives me the opportunity to be a little bit of every kind of doctor: a surgeon, an internist, and a specialist in multiple organ systems. The ICU is my favorite place to be in the hospital. Here, we can help people overcome frightening critical illness and be well again, and we can also mitigate suffering when we know the critical illness will not be overcome.
I have been practicing for over 15 years, and in that span of time, medical technology has advanced to unbelievable heights. Things that we couldn’t do just 10 years ago are commonplace now. It is truly wondrous to behold.
Given that being a physician was my lifelong dream, I am always striving to be the best physician I can be, out of gratitude to the Lord for His gift of choosing me to serve His children and help alleviate the suffering wrought by disease.
Writing is my catharsis. Writing is my solace. Writing is how I am able to process the varying and dizzying emotions that come with practicing medicine today, especially in the midst of this horrific global pandemic. This is all the more ironic since, growing up in school, English was my worst and least favorite subject.
I left private practice to become an employed physician to run a critical care program in a community hospital. It was a big leap of faith, and it was rough in the beginning. Almost 8 years later, however, so many colleagues have come up to me and said, ‘We can’t imagine the ICU without you and your team.’ This makes me so proud and so grateful.
Doing what I have been doing the last eight years has given me a great appreciation for physician leadership. While I do not necessarily want to completely leave the bedside, I also want to grow in my leadership responsibilities. This is because, not only can I affect positive change with one individual patient at the bedside, but I can also be the driver of positive change for hundreds and thousands of patients as a physician leader. Both opportunities give me great professional satisfaction. Moreover, I can be a more effective physician leader because of my ongoing experience taking care of patients at the bedside.
I think healthcare is in a great state of flux at the moment. There is a huge drive to move from quantity-based care to value-based care. This is a fundamental paradigm shift, and it is incumbent upon clinicians to know how to navigate this change and become excellent at it. As technology continues to improve and evolve, it is also incumbent upon clinicians to always keep the patient at the center of everything we do.
That is the way we can constantly be improving the quality of care to our patients, by never forgetting that our patients are ‘why we are where we are’ and why we do what we do. Further, we can learn to intelligently embrace those technological advances that will help enhance our delivery of quality healthcare to the communities that we serve. This will be essential as well.
In addition, we need to recognize and actively combat disparities in healthcare. Not everyone’s experience with the healthcare system has been the same or has been positive. We need to be positive agents for change in this arena.
I have been writing for more than 20 years now. Much of my writing is at drhassaballa.medium.com, where the vast majority of my pieces are published in Being Well, Medium’s premier health and wellness publication. I am honored to be one of it’s editors as well. I’ve published a book of fiction, Code Blue, which is a medical thriller. It is available for purchase on Amazon.