Second year nephrology fellow Usman Younus is passionate about medicine. “All we are trying to do is help people,” he says. “Even when you are working hard, sometimes with inhumane hours, it’s gratifying. At the end of the day, because of something that you did, somebody is better. I think that is the best part of this profession.”
When asked if he had ever considered any other profession, Usman does not hesitate in his answer. “You know, I always knew I would be a medicine physician down the road. I come from a family of doctors.”
Usman, the youngest of four siblings from Lahore, Pakistan, followed in the footsteps of his brother and two sisters and became a physician.
Usman’s brother, Umair, the eldest sibling, was the first in the immediate family to go into medicine in the early 1990s. He now specializes in pediatric and adult cardiac anesthesia, as well as ICU management, at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Pakistan.
Ayezah Mir, the eldest sister, was the first sibling to come to the United States. Dr. Mir has been practicing medicine for over 15 years and is currently a pediatrician in Naperville, Illinois. Usman’s other sister, Zilfah, is completing a neurology residency program at SUNY Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York.
“So, finally, it’s me,” says Usman, who attended King Edward Medical University Medical School in Pakistan. “I came here and started my residency in internal medicine at SUNY Buffalo.” Usman is finishing his fellowship in nephrology in June and will start a fellowship in Critical Care here at Washington University in July.
Usman speaks of the special bond he has with his brother and sisters as a privilege. “I mean, the four of us sitting at lunch or dinner having discussions about some aspect of a medical related topic is very gratifying, and it feels good. We’re all connected, not just because we are a family, but also profession-wise.”
The influence of his siblings was invaluable in helping Usman wend his way through the processes of interviewing and applying for medical school, residency and the fellowships. “They were there to guide me. They were role models for me.”
However, guidance did not come only from Usman’s siblings. “I think any credit goes first to my parents who put so much effort into our education, helping us choose the right path, and guiding us through all the career-building steps,” he says. “These were all the small steps that eventually led to the right place, where you always wanted to be.” As you might expect, Usman’s parents are no strangers to the field of science. His father, Younus, has an MS in zoology and his mother, Shahnaz, has an MS in botany.
And the careers in medicine don’t end with the immediate family. “If you talk about my extended family, then there are going to be a lot of physicians,” says Usman. “My uncle has four children, and all of them are physicians. And their wives or husbands are physicians as well. They are spread all over. One is in Australia, a few are here in the US, and some are back home.”
When not at work, Usman looks forward to his downtime. “I love playing guitar. I play acoustic. I like Bob Dylan and Pink Floyd. I’m not an expert, but I know how to play a few strings and sing a few words. It’s a fun time.”
Running and hiking are also favorite pastimes. Usman fondly recalls summer trips with friends hiking in the Himalayas. He smiles. “Of course, all of this was before I got married.”
While trips to Colorado and maybe the Grand Canyon are being considered, those plans may have to wait … for now. The upcoming year will be hectic with the start of the Critical Care Intensivist Fellowship and the very recent birth of his daughter on May 24th, 2017! (And, yes, in case you were wondering, Usman’s wife, Sana Saif, is also a physician, who will be joining the faculty of the Department of Hematology at Washington University later this year.)
When the time comes for the next generation of Usman’s family – his son and now his daughter – to choose their paths in life, will he recommend a career in medicine?
Again, Usman did not hesitate in answering. “I think this is a very noble profession to consider.”