This blog post was contributed by Mohammed Hassan who is a 2019 alum of the Study of U.S. Institutes (SUSI) and an Egyptian citizen.
Being a medical student in Egypt wasn’t as promising as I thought it would be. The journey is frustrating for most students. However, something changed my mind and gave me the hope and motivation to follow my dream to become a good doctor.
Many doctors in Egypt work in poor places with unsafe working conditions. Despite what is normally seen as a profitable profession, Egyptian doctors have the lowest salary in the country, and one of the lowest among doctors around the world. Our doctors make huge sacrifices every day to help others, leading me to wonder what would possibly make them continue to invest their efforts in choosing to do good no matter how hard life can get.
In June 2019, I participated in the U.S. Department of State exchange program for students called the Study of the U.S. Institutes or “SUSI” for short, implemented by Meridian International Center. Under SUSI, I was able to study Religious Freedom and Pluralism at the Dialogue Institute at Temple University. One of the greatest things I learned during this experience is how a person has agency to choose freely what he wants and what he believes in. Life circumstances don’t necessarily need to dictate your choices, and I learned that it’s very important to believe in the choices you make and to be empowered by them.
This made me confident to stand by my choice to become a good doctor and invest my life in helping other people. I see helping other people as the right thing to do. and I think this is important no matter how hard life can be.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in Egypt and the number of cases increased, I desperately wanted to help in any possible way. I heard about a potential initiative on Facebook called, “Stay Home and Consult the Menoufia Doctors,” from a Chest Specialist and Professor at my university, Dr. Ebtessam Salama. The program allows you to ask a doctor for a free consultation or advice on the quarantine, including critical information such as when to go to the hospital and how to know if you are infected among many other health services.
When I learned of that initiative, I immediately contacted Dr. Salama and joined as a co-founder:
- I contacted more than 400 doctors to provide emergency consultations and spread the word.
- I built a system of social media post topics according to medical sharing information from our team of volunteer doctors, dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians, and nurses.
- I reorganized the group information to make it easier for patients to find the right doctor and the specialty needed.
On June 13, after 3 months of daily continuous effort, this initiative has reached more than 83,000 members who now have full access to medical consultations. I am proud of this effort and humbled by its success based on completely free volunteering.
Be the person you need to be.