Last September I became involved in the Mikva Challenge, a civic program that challenges high school students throughout Chicago to be active participants in the political process through elections, activism and policy-making programs. I had been a part of a couple of their projects when I was offered the opportunity to come to a gathering of local leaders. I met a number of fascinating people including Jaime Parent, vice president and associate chief information officer of Information Technology Operations at Rush University Medical Center. I mentioned my longstanding ambition to be a pediatric surgeon and he generously offered to set up a meeting between Dr. Ziyad Hijazi, one of the world’s premier interventional cardiologists, and me.
I can honestly say the meeting with Dr. Hijazi was one of the most fascinating hours of my life. We talked about different noninvasive procedures he had developed to fix holes in infants’ hearts using balloon-expandable stents. One of the remarkable things about Dr. Hijazi is his ability to explain complicated medical procedures. I noticed this talent in the meeting and later when I had the unbelievable opportunity to shadow him for a week. During consultations with patients, he would explain the procedure they would undergo in such calm and confident way that I rarely saw anyone become anxious at the prospect of heart surgery.