Physician Credits Father’s Illness for Interest in Medicine

02.22.19
People of JRMC

Jefferson Regional Pulmonologist, Khalid Mohammad, M.D., is dedicated to practicing medicine with compassion, availability and innovation in Southeast Arkansas.

His journey has been a long one, and began with the influence of his father, who was a scientist. “He instilled the habits of learning, thinking and curiosity in me,” he said.

Dr. Mohammad’s life trajectory was further impacted when he was in the eighth grade, and his dad was suddenly diagnosed with renal cancer. “That was the first instance where I got in touch with medicine,” he said. “Until that time, I never had such a close connection to it.”

One day, after his cancer was in remission, Dr. Mohammad’s father came to him with an idea. After his experience as a patient, he believed his son could be a great physician. “He came to me and said, ‘What do you want to do?’” Dr. Mohammad said. “Then he said I should think about going into healthcare. He was not pressing at all, but I said, ‘Wow, this is something I can look into.’”

From that point on, Dr. Mohammad worked toward his goal of becoming a physician. However, getting into medical school in his home country of India is an incredibly difficult task. “The percentage of people who actually go into medical school is about one percent,” he said. “I was accepted with my first try, and I went into med school and went through the very cumbersome process of getting to know what I was exactly getting into.”

Dr. Mohammad said he had always been fascinated by critical care medicine, which led him to pulmonology. He said he knew that good critical care doctors are highly educated on airway, breathing and circulation and pulmonology is a large part of that. “To become a good critical care doctor, you have to be a very good pulmonologist,” he said.

Dr. Mohammad went on to be trained in pulmonology in India and then completed an internal medicine fellowship and pulmonary critical care fellowship in the United States. “That’s why the journey was pretty intense,” he said. “I was board certified in two different areas, and I’m board certified in pulmonology in two different continents – Asia and in North America.”

Looking back, Dr. Mohammad said it blows him away to think of the years he invested in his journey to becoming a physician. “Once you do all these things, you don’t realize how much time you have spent doing them,” he said, smiling. “When I finished my fellowship in 2013, my wife actually gave a surprise graduation party and called in lots of friends. I looked back at the years I’d been studying, and it was from 1997 to 2013. That’s 16 years.”

After the many years of extensive training, Dr. Mohammad was ready to start his own practice, which he chose to do at JRMC. “Once I started working here, I really loved it,” he said. “It’s really rewarding, because the need is so much. Our patient population comes from all the way down to the Louisiana Border so they can see us. If I can make a difference in their lives, that is really one of my proudest achievements. When the patients come back and tell me that I have done a good job, that’s the best thing that I can hear from them.”

Dr. Mohammad explained that he is one of the most experienced physicians in Arkansas in state-of-the-art procedures for the diagnosis and management of lung cancer.

Dr. Mohammad said he was the first physician in the state to perform a procedure called electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy. He described this procedure as a GPS that guides the physician to a certain location where the cancerous legion is. This procedure allows Dr. Mohammad to find tumors that would not be accessible with a normal bronchoscope. Dr. Mohammad said he has done over 150 of these procedures.

In addition, Dr. Mohammad performs a procedure called the EBUS biopsy. He said this procedure allows him to diagnose cancer and determine its stage at the same time. He started doing it two years ago, and he’s performed over 100 EBUS biopsies since then.

Dr. Mohammad is particularly passionate about cancer diagnosis and treatment, which has given him unique relationships with many Southeast Arkansas patients. “I absolutely make very close relationships with my patients,” he said. “I am the person who actually breaks the diagnosis of the cancer to the patient, so the first contact they have is with me. I make sure that I keep a tab of whatever’s going on, and I stay on top of it. They have an extra layer of physician care that can be provided to them.”

From his vantage point, Dr. Mohammad said receiving care from JRMC – rather than a larger hospital in little rock – is better for patients. “I can actually relate to all the care that is provided here, because I trained and did my fellowship at a large hospital in Little Rock,” he said. “If a physician is seeing a volume of patients that is not conducive to having a good doctor-patient relationship, then you’ll never have that kind of relationship established.”

Dr. Mohammad believes that excellent patient-physician relationships require one-on-one interaction. “Communication is the key to all of these things,” he said. “At JRMC, it’s one-on-one. I make an appointment, I pick up the phone, and I give a call. I say, ‘Hey, I did the procedure yesterday, and these are the results that I have. These are my plans.’ Hearing from me directly is very different than hearing from somebody else or hearing it two weeks down the road. These are diagnoses of life and death. These diagnoses are so very important that what the patients need is a very reassuring tone, a reassuring person and the knowledge that, ‘Hey, they’ve got my back – there is somebody behind me who is there watching all of these things, and they will give me the best of care possible.”

Dr. Mohammad said that he has the opportunity to use his entire expertise to care for Southeast Arkansas patients. “The vast diseases that I see around here actually hold my skills to the fullest,” he said.

Dr. Mohammad said his patients shape his perspective of JRMC. “Our patients value the care that is provided to them to the fullest,” he said. “They are very understanding. They trust you. I have never encountered a single patient that told me he or she would rather get a second opinion from a bigger center or something of that sort. They are from the community, and they value our association with this particular community. When somebody trusts me so much, that encourages me even more to do my best for my patients. Patients like that are unique to JRMC. They love their doctors very much, and I do my utmost not to betray their trust in any way.”

Looking back, Dr. Mohammad said he feels extremely proud of what he’s achieved. “It’s been a hard at times, but every bit worth it,” he said. “Nobody can take these experiences away from me.”

Of his many achievements, Dr. Mohammad said that the best is his family. “I have a beautiful wife – we both love each other a lot,” he said. “I also have two beautiful kids. I have a nine-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son. I simply adore them. I’m a big fan of both of them.”

Dr. Mohammad said he wouldn’t be where or who he is today without his wife. “I give a lot of credit to her,” he said. “She’s been there through thick and thin, through all the struggles, through everything,” he said. “It wouldn’t have been possible if she had not been there. She has taken care of me to the fullest.”

When Dr. Mohammad isn’t working, he is making sure to spend time with his kids. “While I’m working over here, I’m here,” he said. “Then I finish my work and go home, and my whole time is involved with the kids. I don’t do anything without them being involved in it.”

Dr. Mohammad and his family make travel a priority, but he only has one favorite travel destination. “My favorite place always when I go back home to India,” he said. “The rest of my family is in India, including my mom, brothers and extended family, so that is always very exciting. To me, family means a lot. You might not have everything, but you’ve got people around. Where there is family, you can make that place into one of the best places around.”

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