A conversation with Saleh Aldasouqi, MD

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06 Aug 2021

3 minutes to read

Source / Disclosures

Source: Healio maintenance

Disclosures: Aldasouqi does not report any relevant financial disclosure.


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Saleh Aldasouqi, MD, never considered himself a writer – and initially not an endocrinologist – until he learned how much he loved telling stories that show the human side of practicing medicine.

Saleh Aldasouqi

“Over the past decade, I have found myself indulging in the fields of empathy and the humanities through blogs, books and lectures,” Healio Aldasouqi, professor of medicine and head of the division of endocrinology at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing. . “As I cherish my scientific and research accomplishments, I derive particular joy and fulfillment from fields that combine humanities and medicine. Maybe it has to do with being a storyteller, something that I didn’t recognize in myself until my fellow students and residents pointed out. “

Photo courtesy of Saleh Aldasouqi

In the healthcare environment, communication is concise and can be impersonal, Aldasouqi said. His goal of instilling more empathy in medicine led him to launch his Healio blog, “From the doctor’s bag”, in 2016.

“In the age of social media and busy life, people no longer write letters, stories or essays, but rather one-liners on Facebook or Twitter, looking for ‘likes'” , said Aldasouqi. “My blog was meant to be light. Yes, each post will have a medical link, but in a fun way. A little science, but more humanities.

Healio spoke with Aldasouqi about his initial plan to become a rheumatologist, the film that changed the way he practices medicine, and his love of cycling, calligraphy and poetry. He recently wrote his 100th blog post for Healio.

Healio: What was the defining moment that brought you to endocrinology?

Aldasouqi: In fact, it was incidental. I wanted to be a rheumatologist! As I detailed in a previous blog post, I have no recollection of why I chose endocrinology especially when I was a third year medical student at my alma mater, the ‘University of Jordan. I hated the specialty in medical schools and postgraduate training – until November 1993, when I was PGY-3 senior at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.

When I was younger, I never wanted to be a doctor, but rather an engineer. Looking back, I think medicine was a calling and the best decision I made after high school.

Healio: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

Aldasouqi: “Saleh, you were made for academia.” This advice was given to me by my former leader, mentor and friend, Ved Gossain, MD, professor emeritus and second pillar of endocrinology at MSU after David Rovner, MD, who founded the division of endocrinology at MSU in the 1970s. He gave me this advice when I first joined MSU in 2005. I then struggled financially due to low academic salaries at a time when I had three children in high school. and at university, and I had financial difficulties.

Healio: What do you think will have the greatest influence on your field over the next 10 years?

Aldasouqi: What I’m hoping for is a shift in the efforts of endocrinologists to move from treating type 2 diabetes with medication to fully preventing diabetes. That is, tackling the root cause of diabetes: obesity. I like to use the term “pre-prediabetes”. I also like to call it “the turn to the left,” based on the famous Minneapolis glucose-insulin-insulin resistance graph that describes the natural history of diabetes.

I also like the engine and van analogy when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes. My mentor and former partner, Daniel Duick, MD, used to say, “Saleh, when you see the caboose, you missed the train,” in the mid-90s when we were working together in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The story is also detailed in a previous article.

Healio: What advice would you give to a medical student today?

Aldasouqi: Listen to your patient. Remember that one day you will become a patient. When the doctor becomes a patient, this experience can trigger a life-changing transformation for that doctor, so that he will begin to practice medicine in a different way than he did before.

Looking back, I discovered it in myself while watching the movie “The Doctor”. I was transformed by the film. In it, Dr Jack McKee (played by William Hurt), a famous and esteemed heart surgeon, told Dr Leslie Abbott (played by Wendy Crewson): “Someday you will become the patient. The film was released in 1991 and was based on a true story of the late Dr. Edward Rosenbaum, who wrote a book called “The Taste of My Own Medicine: When the Doctor is the Patient”. I detail how this film changed the way I practice medicine in a previous article. The film transformed me inside and out; I like to say that I have become a trained doctor again.

Healio: What are your hobbies / interests outside of medical practice?

Aldasouqi: Medicine takes up most of my time, almost non-stop. However, I find time to practice my hobbies, which are calligraphy, poetry and writing. I also do sports; my favorite sport is cycling with my son.


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