It was November, and I was in the second year of my cardiology fellowship when I received a phone call from my brother in Saudi Arabia. It was an odd time for him to call me. I picked up and listened to his frantic voice: “Khalid, our mother had a cardiac arrest. She is in ER! Intubated! Going to ICU. I will call you back… I have to go…I will call you back!” I was at my apartment in Ohio, thousands of miles away, as my whole life was turning upside down. After about 15-20 long minutes, I spoke with my brother again: “Khalid, she just passed away!” Just like that, she was gone.
Clinical training in America’s most populous city is known for being vigorous. If you’ve done any residency or fellowship training in New York City, you know that there is little downtime—chances are you’re busy year-round! The patient population here is perhaps the most diverse in the world and that fact is reflected in the rich clinical exposure; training in NYC is a qualification in itself. My wife and I, both physicians, moved from Trinidad and Tobago in June 2014 to pursue residency training in internal medicine at the BronxCare Health System. After completing residency, I completed a fellowship in pulmonary diseases at the same institution before moving to Montefiore Medical Center for training in critical care medicine. After almost six years in NYC, I found myself feeling comfortable managing very sick patients in almost any clinical context, but I was soon to be put out of my comfort zone.