Ross University Blog

ALUMNI: How One Grad Is Putting His Medical Skills to Work at Home and Abroad

August 08, 2016

Faiz Hussain, MD, Ross Class of 2002

Faiz Hussain, MD, Ross Class of 2002

Before he even became a doctor, Faiz Hussain, MD, MPH (’02) knew he wanted to help people. “I had been exposed to different relief organizations, and always thought to myself how great it would be to be able to provide medical relief where there is none at all,” he said. “That was actually the driving factor for me to want to pursue medicine—to be able to do exactly what I’ve had the opportunity to do.” 

Indeed, Hussain has traveled the world bringing medical care to underserved communities as well as areas devastated by natural disasters. Since graduating from Ross University School of Medicine, he’s supported relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the South Asian earthquake of 2005, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, the Pakistan floods in 2010, and more. He also led a medical delegation to the Philippines in 2013 in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. At home, he puts his skills to use in the US Department of Veterans Affairs. “Working with these populations, I realize that this is a passion that has come to fruition,” he said. “I am doing exactly what I wanted to do with the skills and knowledge I invested in.”

Below is a sampling of his efforts— what he remembers, what he’s contributed, and what he’s gained.

September 2005: Hurricane Katrina

Shortly after Hussain finished his internal medicine residency at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, America was hit with the worst natural disaster in recent history: Hurricane Katrina. “It was all about timing,” he said. “I had finished a month later than my peers, and the news was ablaze with the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on so many people. So I, like everyone else, was reading up on it and trying to understand the ramifications of this disaster.”

He did some research and contacted the Mississippi medical board. “I basically shared with them the fact that I just completed my residency, I had a break in my schedule before starting work, and I was available if they needed assistance,” he said. “They immediately processed an emergency state medical license to bring me over so I could help.”

He arrived at Biloxi on the gulf to find a shared relief effort bringing goods, water, food, shelter, and medical care to the people there. “I was assigned to take over a makeshift community clinic that had been set up at the Biloxi community center,” Hussain recalled. “I ran that for about two and a half weeks. That was my initial exposure into the medical relief world.”

October 2005: Kashmir Earthquake 

On his way back home from Biloxi, Hussain had a layover in Houston. He looked up at the television monitors, and saw that a massive earthquake had just hit the Kashmir, Pakistan region, leaving the already impoverished area devastated. “A few days later, I was actually contacted by a subsidiary organization of the World Economic Forum. They said they were familiar with my work in Katrina, and they wanted me to lead a medical team they were planning on deploying to Kashmir,” he said. “Within five days of coming home from Katrina, I was off to Kashmir.”

On site, he worked with a team to set up and establish mobile medical clinics in the valleys of Kashmir. “We set up a surgical tent and makeshift operating rooms, a pharmacy and dispensary, and triage and primary care,” he said. This experience expanded on his time in the aftermath of Katrina because, while floods cause undeniable damage, an earthquake causes even more physical trauma and injuries. “We were there for another two and a half weeks,” he recalled, “working sunrise to sunset.”

2012 and 2013: Nairobi, Kenya 

As a clinical preceptor for third and fourth semester RUSM students, Hussain has hosted two international clinical elective trips to Nairobi. “The efforts there were not limited to addressing an immediate medical need,” he said. “The idea was to do that but also to set up long term sustainable care.”

While in Nairobi, Hussain and the students visited several pockets of underserved populations that were deprived of any real access to medical care. With their entire medical clinic in backpacks, the group visited an area, set up clinics for a duration of about two or three days, packed up, and moved on to the next destination. “We had a good 10 to 12 clinical days in which we’d see about 300 to 400 patients per day,” Hussain recalled, adding that Kenya’s tribal society allowed word to spread like wildfire.

“Word got around that we were providing care, and people would come with their families, neighbors, children—we were literally inundated with case volume, but despite the logistical challenges, not one of us ever felt overworked or tired. It was truly a pleasure to be able to serve these people who really need this kind of care.”

On his second trip to the region, word of their efforts had spread to the University of Nairobi Medical School. “They were so impressed with the initiative that they asked if they could partner with us and send some of their clinical students to work with us,” Hussain said. “It was helpful because we had local medical students and residents that had a greater cultural tie to the patients. They were able to serve as translators and got academic credit. What started out as very small efforts had grown, and were recognized by local academia.”

2013: Camden, New Jersey 

Through RUSM’s 2013 season sponsorship of the Camden Riversharks baseball team, Hussain and other alumni had the opportunity to take part in a community health initiative that brought their health and wellness knowledge to the residents of Camden, New Jersey. “This event recognized that the local community didn’t have access to or encouragement to seek out medical care,” Hussain said.

“So we convened at the ballpark, took in a game, and educated the community about several medical issues affecting them including hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, and more. We discussed the importance of these conditions as well as what people can do to prevent them.”

Today: Long Beach and Los Angeles, California

In Los Angeles, Hussain donates his time to an organization that runs a community health clinic for the residents of Skid Row each year, providing vital signs screenings, ophthalmology clinics, flu shots and other vaccinations, and more. We’ve been doing this every year for the last 10 years,” he said.

Hussain’s day job is just as influential. After working as a medical director for an occupational medicine group, Hussain realized that he wanted to put his skills to work for America’s veterans. His background in occupational medicine made him a perfect fit to forensically evaluate medical disability claims, and shortly after joining the department in 2010, he became clinical director of the Department of Compensation and Pension with the US Department of Veterans Affairs in Long Beach, CA.

“A lot of the veterans I am seeing now have been deployed to southwest Asia and the Gulf countries,” he said. “Since I have both cultural and clinical ties to that region, I am able to bond with them on a different level than someone who hasn’t had that experience. As the veterans describe their experiences in those regions, I know exactly what they’re talking about because I experienced it myself firsthand. And that fosters a greater understanding and sensitivity to their medical needs.”

Tags: Alumni , Community Service

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