When I sat down with third-year resident Mehreen Iqbal, she was fasting for Ramadan. She had just come off a 24-hour shift in the neonatal intensive care unit — one of her pediatric rotations — at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. I thought perhaps the combination of fasting and sleep deprivation would be apparent but she didn’t show either as she sat across from me in the studio. Ah, the life of a resident.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Mehreen came to the U.S. at the age of three, when her father was a graduate student in engineering at the University of Michigan. As her father’s career progressed, the family moved to the East Coast and there she attended grade school at a P.S. in Brooklyn, had a short stint at middle school in Connecticut and finished up at a high school in New Jersey. College was at Wellesley College and medical school at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
An interest in medicine was sparked in her youth. And a passion for healing, she told me, was ignited by reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, Tracy Kidder’s award-winning book about the renowned infectious-disease specialist Paul Farmer, MD.
In this 1:2:1 podcast, Mehreen and I talked about medicine and Islam, two loves of hers that have a connection. You’ll hear her describe the inspiration she receives from her religion and how it fuels her desire to care for people. She also talks about what it’s like to be a Muslim American post 9/11.
I’ve found that physicians trained in pediatrics usually have a special warmth and gentleness, and they often immediately strike you as kind and caring, soothing and comforting. Mehreen was that in spades.
Photo courtesy of Mehreen Iqbal