Posted on Categories My Story, Words of Wisdom

Celebrating One Year of Journeys in Medicine!

By Tracy Wallowicz
Director, ECFMG Exchange Visitor Sponsorship Program and Compliance

The one-year anniversary of Journeys in Medicine is the perfect time to reflect and reminisce about the past year and to look ahead with excitement to all of the amazing exchange visitor (EV) physician stories yet to be told. The impact that EV physicians have on health care in the United States and around the world cannot be underestimated and it has been both an honor and pleasure to tell their stories through our blog. While I have truly enjoyed each and every blog entry, below are a few of my favorite quotes from the past year.


From my personal insight while living and working in this environment, I can safely say that it is a culture which invites, recognizes, evolves and celebrates what you have to offer. The foundation of American culture I believe is to nourish, cherish and appreciate positivity. The astounding diversity of my colleagues and our ability to work together without any hurdle is probably a reflection of that spirit. The tradition of improving and learning beyond boundaries comes from a sincere intention to work hard and indulge in excellence. It is remarkable, when folks from Asia, South America, Europe and Africa, gather to celebrate Christmas with our Iowan director, huddle up to enjoy the super bowl with our mate from Buffalo NY, and hit the Clearwater beach under Floridian sun. Abdul Kareem Khan, MD


Working together in a hospital is so much more intense than working together in an office – you work 80 hours a week together, you save lives together and you agonize over the lives you didn’t save together. Before I knew it, I had a group of people around me who were my family in the truest sense. I found family in the friend who took me grocery shopping when I had no way to get to the store. I found family in the attending who convinced me that, despite my nervousness, I was doing a good job. I found family in the friend who dragged me to the stairs outside a party to listen to my romantic troubles. I found family in the senior who came and picked me up every morning before work. I found family in the friend who was always making plans to get ice cream and vent together. I found family in the friend who took me to my first ever basketball game. I found family in my mentor, who assuaged all my doubts every time I met him. I found family in the couple that helped me through my homesickness. I found family in every nurse who took the time to update me on events, and who kindly showed me the workings of the hospital. I found family in the cafeteria worker who shared his plans to run a marathon with me as I waited for a meal at midnight. Khushboo Gala, MD


On my first day of residency, I was very nervous. I started off-cycle, and was worried about being looked at as the new outsider. What happened was the complete opposite. I was greeted with both warm smiles and welcomes. I was offered help and advice on settling in, and I was asked if I needed anything. I grew with my co-residents. We felt like a second family in our “home away from home.” I gave it my best, and so did they. We shared knowledge, advice, good times, and bad times. I learned about them, and met their family members and significant others. I attended Thanksgiving dinners, and learned a lot about baseball and football. By the way, I’ll be a NY Yankees, NY Giants, and Brooklyn Nets fan for life. During graduation, all our families met as well. We were so happy and proud. We did it together! Mazin Alhamdani, MD


One year ago I posted the first Journeys in Medicine blog entry, about my family’s personal experience with Dr. Rajan (left) and Dr. Mirzoev (right). Here we are together at the American Academy of Neurology 2019 Annual Meeting.

As these excerpts illustrate, our contributors serve as shining examples of how people from different cultures and different backgrounds come together to form wonderful and diverse communities—communities built from shared experiences and based in respect, integrity, kindness and true connection. It is heartwarming to know that the objectives of Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program—educational and cultural exchange—are being lived out every day in teaching hospitals across the United States.

ECFMG is proud to be a small part of every EV physician’s story. We are excited to share even more Journeys in Medicine with you in 2020.

Do you have an EV physician story to tell? Whether you are a current or alumnus EV physician, host institution Training Program Liaison, or someone who works with or has been impacted by an EV physician, we’d like to hear from you. Use this form to be considered as a contributing author on Journeys in Medicine.