Dr. Ali Ghahary is a respected family physician in Vancouver, British Columbia. Originally from Iran, he and his parents moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, when he was just seven years old. Adapting to life in Canada came with its fair share of challenges, but Dr. Ghahary learned English quickly and began embracing the new culture and environment. At this time, both of his parents were studying to become doctors, which would eventually play a defining role in Dr. Ghahary’s own career choice.
Years later, Dr. Ghahary obtained his Bachelor of Science in Medical Science (BSc) and his Medical Degree (MD) with honours in research. In 2005, he completed his Family Medicine Residency at McGill University and achieved CCFP (Certification in the College of Family Physicians) and LMCC (Licentiate of the Medical Council of Canada) licensure. He has also been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including two scholarships for his academic excellence and an accolade from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for his outstanding medical research. Today, Dr. Ghahary is a family doctor at the Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, where he provides lifelong care for families.
1. What do you love most about the industry you are in?
“There are two main reasons I love my profession. Firstly, working in the healthcare field is probably the single most rewarding career. Every day I have the opportunity to help people in the most significant way, whether it’s preventing illness, supporting families through difficult times, and potentially saving lives.
Secondly, I can build meaningful relationships with families in my community. You can interact with people in many jobs, so this is not solely something a doctor will experience. However, having the ability to see the same patients over a prolonged period creates an enduring bond and allows me to observe the long-term benefits of my care.”
2. What does a typical day consist of for you?
“I usually wake up early and reach the clinic just before 8 a.m. Throughout the day, I will see 25-35 patients with different conditions, from minor colds to complex medical issues. In general, I perform physical exams, order diagnostic tests, review lab results and x-rays, and formulate treatment plans for my patients. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we physicians transitioned to doing a lot of our work though telehealth. Thus I see far fewer patients in person, which could very well be the new normal moving forward. Ultimately, technology has really been a saving grace during these unprecedented times and has helped me take care of my patients when they need me most.”
3. What keeps you motivated?
“COVID-19 has really forced people to work together to eliminate the virus. As a doctor, I am passionate about helping others, and I want to do my part to help during this crisis. I know there are many people out there that are relying on me and other physicians to do our jobs well, and I don’t want to let anyone down.”
4. Who has been a role model to you and why?
“I have always looked up to my parents, who are both PhD scientists. We left Iran when I was young in order to pursue their academic careers. I remember listening to them discuss medical concepts and scientific experiments. And they always worked so hard, which is where I get my strong work ethic. Similarly, I was able to appreciate the value and impact that their work would have on people’s lives, and I too wanted to profoundly change someone’s life for the better, but in a different way, which is why I chose to go into medicine.”
5. How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?
“Achieving a good work-life balance is easier said than done, especially during a pandemic when working long hours is expected. However, I am trying my best to make more of a conscious effort to take time off and participate in activities with loved ones, which we all know is very important given that many medical professionals are teetering on the edge of burnout.”
6. What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
“There are a couple of traits that I believe all successful medical leaders should have. The first is good communication skills, and the second is a strong moral compass. As a doctor, I need to communicate well to establish trust with my patients and provide clear treatment directions. It is also important that I maintain positive work relationships with colleagues and staff to remain as efficient as possible.
Additionally, all doctors should aim to do the right thing. For me, being ethical is far more essential than seeing the maximum number of patients and making more money. If needed, I will spend extra time to ensure that my decisions are in good conscience so that I can lead my staff by example.”
7. What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
“Studying at medical school is extremely time-consuming, to say the least. But don’t neglect some of the non-academic things you enjoy doing. When I was cramming for exams, I still tried to make time for one of my greatest passions—acting. It’s easy to get so caught up in studying that you forget to make time for the things that make you who you are.”
8. What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
“Working in the healthcare industry has made me realize just how fragile life is. As a physician, I see so many people avoid routine check-ups that might actually help prevent or detect disease early on. I do my best to remind patients to take care of their health before it becomes too late.”
9. Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
“Outside of work, I enjoy the value of positive relationships and strive to connect with friends and family as much as possible. I am also always at the gym or doing some kind of physical activity. Any other free time I have, I focus on pursing my passion for acting and filmmaking. The other thing I would say about myself is that I am someone who loves learning. It is my default setting. I just naturally gravitate towards picking up some piece of knowledge or new skill that I didn’t have before. This truly defines me. “
10. What trends in your industry excite you?
“Technology has always played an important role in healthcare. However, the pandemic has helped us rollout Telehealth much quicker than we ever thought possible. Many Canadian doctors are wondering what this means for the future of the medical industry. Personally, I am very pleased with how streamlined the entire process has been, and I’m excited to see the long-term benefits, from increased patient access to an improved workflow and better patient outcomes.”