Dr. Syed Mohiuddin

He arrived at the United Way office for our meeting wearing a pair of silver and blue sneakers, a physician’s blue scrubs, and a zip-up sweatshirt. His dark eyes greeted mine with the energy of a spring being unleashed from its compression. Dr. Syed Mohiuddin, a physician doing his residency at Detroit Medical Center, is a thirty-year-old force of nature who has put his raw intellect, capacity, and passion for humanity to work for a greater good.

Syed came to meet with me prior to the start of his 3 p.m. shift in the ER to discuss the next steps of a group he chairs for United Way for Southeastern Michigan called Leadership Next. This group of next-generation leaders from throughout the region works to make progress on our targeted issues of education, income, and building a springboard into the safety net.

As the meeting was wrapping up, Syed asked me if there were things I wish I had done more or less of in my career.

I said, “I never regretted taking big risks. Sometimes we can overthink things we face and never take the necessary action. It is far better to stay bold than safe.”

Syed talked about the many dreams he has for his future profession in medicine and in the wider world. Syed could be anywhere in the world doing what he wants, but he has chosen to do his work in Detroit.

“The intersection of the hospital to the community and the many issues we face has been a perfect mix for me to be in. I never thought I would be practicing my profession and working in the community with an organization like United Way. I get to not only treat the patients who come to the hospital, but I can also work on the issues in the community that often create the conditions which lead people to come to the hospital,” he said.

As I listened to Syed, I thought what a beautiful human being he is to be working so incredibly hard to make a difference. Hearing about his dreams and aspirations reminded me of a lesson my wife and I were given before we had our first child 23 years ago.

We sat at a small kitchen table with the owner of a B&B in Maine. This was our last trip before we had children, as Joan was seven months pregnant. The owner looked at us as we shared the possibilities in our future and gave a little pearl of wisdom that my wife and I have repeated many times over throughout the years:

Always keep this thought in mind as you are striving for the next thing in your life: You can have everything; you just can’t have it all at once.”

Syed bounded out the elevator as quickly as he had arrived, heading to his ER shift. He was excited about linking his patients with United Way’s 211. As he left, I thought, if there ever were a person who might be able to get everything he wanted done all at once, it would be Syed. Regardless, this community is blessed to have Syed in full motion, creating a new future within the region.

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