July 16, 2022

Ahmad Hider, MPhil: Moving policy forward

Ahmad's Michigan Answer: U-M has provided me an excellent education, a cohort of compassionate and brilliant colleagues, and the opportunity to combine my interests in medicine and policy to help move health care forward.

Ahmad Hider (he/him/his) is from nearby Dearborn, MI and graduated with a B.S. from the University of Michigan in 2017, followed by a Masters of Philosophy in Translational Biomedical Research from the University of Cambridge in 2019. He's currently pursuing a dual degree in medicine and law at the University of Michigan.

Below, he shares advice for prospective medical students, his favorite aspects of the curriculum and training, why he's pursuing a law degree and more.

Ahmad can be followed on Twitter @amhider_

What would you say to a prospective student who is considering the University of Michigan Medical School for their medical education?

Medical school is challenging, as it should be. However, having the necessary resources and support makes the experience worth it.

When considering Michigan Medicine, first know that the curriculum will prepare you to become a high-caliber clinical physician. The M1 year involves accelerated pre-clinical work, which is where you learn about disease pathophysiology and get your first experiences interviewing patients through the doctoring course. In the M2 year, you apply your knowledge in a clinical setting, which is full of challenges and rewards. The M3/M4 years are when you get to design your vision of the type of physician you would like to become with the flexibility to explore all that the medical school has to offer.

Second, consider the type of support system you will have within medical school. The M-Home program has provided a space for me to connect with M1-M4s, and my academic and professional counselors (special thanks to Tu’Rone Elliot and Dean McKean) who have been there to support me since the first day of class.

Third, consider the opportunities offered to you. There are too many for me to list here, but I encourage you to visit https://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/education/md-program/opportunities to learn more about a few experiences I took advantage of as a student.

What called you to explore a career in medicine?

After graduating from college, I knew I wanted to combine my love for science and people, and to enhance my understanding of the intersection between the two. I have always enjoyed sharing the story of my younger brother (with his approval, of course), who lives with cystic fibrosis, and how I always consider him as my “first patient.” His journey is the reason I entered medicine.

What’s been most satisfying is being able to connect with physicians and researchers at Michigan Medicine who care for patients and conduct research on CF, allowing me to further explore my interests.

Why did you decide to attend Michigan?

I chose Michigan for my medical education after my Second Look Weekend! I instantly connected with my future classmates and medical school staff, had informative discussions with current students about their experiences, and overall enjoyed the structure and flexibility of the curriculum. The resources I needed to succeed were available in abundance at Michigan Medicine, and I found myself happiest when envisioning myself here for the next four years.

What have been your favorite parts or features of the med school curriculum so far, and why?

Each year of the curriculum is its own piece of the puzzle. In pre-clinicals, it was the Doctoring course, where I learned the basics of physical exams and established a great community of friends and mentors (Dr. Paul Fine and Dr. Kate Klein).

In the clinical year, it was the early exposure to patient care. My very first day of my clinical year, I helped deliver twins, an absolutely terrifying but remarkable experience.

In the Branches, my experience through my general surgery sub-I was my favorite; I had the opportunity to assist the lead attending physician and take ownership of all my patients. In the final year, it was the array of electives offered, allowing me to dive into my specialty of interest.

Overall, Michigan Medicine has built a special community, and I am proud to be a part of it.

How would you describe your clinical training?

My clinical training was exceptional. In order, I rotated through OB/GYN, pediatrics, surgery, family medicine, psychiatry, neurology, and internal medicine. Within each clerkship, I was met with teaching sessions from engaging and brilliant attendings and residents. My responsibility as a clinical student increased as I progressed throughout the year; I was provided constructive feedback and ended the year with a better sense of which specialty I felt closely connected to.

As a learner, the clerkship year is a humbling yet privileged experience allowing one to care for patients in their most vulnerable states.

Concluding my clerkship year and entering my various general surgery sub-internships was my favorite part of medical school. I felt like I had complete ownership of my patients' care as an intern would and felt confident leading rounds in the morning (with great feedback from my chiefs). I had the opportunity to first assist with Dr. Andrew Ibrahim at the VA, a moment I will never forget. Each patient had an impact on me as a learner, whether through connecting with them as they battled their illnesses or learning something new from them every day. With the Branches curriculum, I have the opportunity to explore several specialties before narrowing them down for residency application in the future.

Why did you decide to earn a dual degree while in med school, what has the experience been like, and what advice do you have for others who are considering a dual degree in medical school?

I am pursuing a JD at Michigan Law. Many of my medical school experiences have shaped the type of physician I aspire to become. Most importantly, clinical year has shown some of the flaws of health care, such as the fact that many of my patients are unable to afford their daily medications, and that socioeconomic status plays a large role in quality of life.

As a medical student, I joined the Health Policy Path of Excellence, which aimed to discuss the several tenets of health care law and policy. My health policy advisor, Dr. Amir Ghaferi, played an important role in my decision to pursue a career combining surgery and law. The world needs physicians who will improve the system from within, but just as importantly, the world needs physicians who will fix the system from a health care policy perspective, as some problems begin outside of the clinical space.

My advice on dual degrees is that if you believe that pursuing a dual degree will benefit you professionally or personally in the long run, go for it. Additionally, consider the fact that many residency programs allow for research years, and additional degrees can be completed during that time as well.

What are the ways in which you’ve been able to explore your passions during med school, and what resources or people have helped you do so?

As an M1, I joined national leadership positions through the American Medical Association. I served as our state’s medical student representative on the Committee for Legislation and Advocacy, working with AMA members to advocate for medical students. Additionally, I served as an executive member of the Washtenaw County Health Department, navigating ways to improve residents’ lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Flex quizzing during my M1 year played an important role in my ability to balance my passions with my academic work.

Research is also important to me. I currently serve as an editor for the Michigan Journal of Medicine, a student-run, peer-reviewed journal. It’s been great leading a team of reviewers for every article we are assigned. As an M1, I took advantage of the M0/M1 summer capstone funding and published work related to CF. I also took advantage of several organizational research opportunities, e.g., the American Association for Thoracic Surgeons, which awarded me a summer research internship with Dr. Jules Lin. As an M3/M4, I took advantage of the NIH short-term biomedical research grant and worked with two inspiring mentors, Dr. Oliver Varban and Dr. Anne Ehlers, from the General Surgery Department. Through the NIH elective, I presented our work at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery 2022 conference.

I have been able to explore many other passions during my time at medical school, ranging from Wolverine Street Medicine to participating in SCRUBS (surgery interest group). There are plenty of resources and mentors who will go to bat for students to explore their interests.

What is your favorite place to go in/around the Ann Arbor area and why?

My favorite place has to be Nicholas Arboretum. I enjoy walking the trails and disconnecting from academics for a few hours. Of course, I cannot forget to mention Saturday football games at the Big House