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Physician Profile: Shahid Ahmad, MD, Hospitalist, Regional Health Rapid City Hospital

Oct 30, 2017 09:10AM ● Published by Digital Media Director

Trust is crucial for a hospitalist. Family physicians entrust these specialists with the care of their patients during hospitalization. Families entrust them with loved ones. Without trust, everything stops, says Shahid Ahmad, MD, a hospitalist at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital. It is Ahmad’s ability to teach life lessons like this that has made him a favorite among medical students undergoing rotation at Rapid City Hospital.

“There’s so much more to being a good doctor than just knowing the medicine,” Ahmad says.

Last spring, Dr. Ahmad received the Anton Hyden Award from USD Sanford School of Medicine, an award given to a professor who inspires, supports, and mentors students during their clinical rotations. Ahmad, 33, says he works hard not to limit the teacher-student relationship as he helps students prepare for board reviews and find their fit among the many medical specialties. He also provides instruction on delivering bad news, having been on the receiving end after a sports injury in his youth.

“You just talk like you’re friends and family – not like a stranger,” Ahmad said. “It’s not about the doctor; this is not his moment. This moment belongs to the patient or family. There’s no actual right way.”

Ahmad’s family came to the United States from India so his father could finish a doctorate. They brought along few belongings and young Ahmad worked to contribute, learning the value of demonstrating respect and kindness, even when it wasn’t reciprocated. After Ahmad’s father completed his doctorate, he began teaching medical students as a professor at the University of Arizona Medical School.

 “My father felt that was the real way to give back to medicine,” Ahmad said. It was something the son only understood after he himself attended medical school. “It’s a contribution. I owe it to this profession.”

Athleticism and a diverse background has made Ahmad approachable and his shifting fortunes have given him perspective. Ahmad now splits his time between work in Rapid City and a life in Arizona, where his parents live. He also coaches his brother’s Little League team and gives to his community in other ways. After visiting Rapid City as a traveling doctor, he found that he liked the friendliness of the Midwest and asked for a permanent position.

“I wanted to really commit to what I was doing,” says Ahmad, who admires the purposefulness of the Japanese Samurai. They awoke every day and recommitted themselves to perfecting their role in society, he says.

 As a hospitalist, Ahmad needs to quickly connect with patients, earn their trust, and respond to complex acute care issues. Hospitalists like Ahmad have become common in American hospitals over the past generation as care has grown more complex and physicians have realized they need a balanced life.

“The mistake we make in this profession sometimes is we let medicine consume us,” says Ahmad. “We lose our identity. People forget they are people. I think trying to avoid that actually makes us a better doctor. It makes us a better person.”

His quest for a complete life fits with his name Shahid, which means “the witness” and refers to God’s ability to witness all. “I’m very blessed,” Ahmad said. “Life can be glorious. I want to help people be a part of something great.”

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