Member of the Month: Amer Shakil, MD
Dallas FP has a love of teaching and a passion to serve
Many physicians list their desire to serve their community among the main reasons they decide to become a doctor. That desire often comes with a large financial cost and personal sacrifice. As medical students make their way through training and consider how they want to serve, they are sometimes dissuaded from seriously considering family medicine as a specialty. Sometimes they are told family medicine doesn’t pay well, it’s too easy, or they will spend their entire career in a clinic treating colds. None of those things could be further from the truth. In family medicine every day is guaranteed to be an adventure and no two family medicine doctors practice the exact same way.
Amer Shakil, MD, understood early on that his passion to serve was an asset in his desire to become a doctor. After graduating from Rawalpindi Med College, Punjab University, Pakistan, completing a residency and fellowship at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago/Christ Hospital in Research and Faculty Development, he joined the UTSW Family medicine department. He continues to work up close and personal with residents and has found that teaching satisfies several aspects of his passion for medicine and helping his community.
What interests you about family medicine?
The broadest scope of practice without limitation of age or body organs is really the biggest attraction. The ability to connect with patients and their families, spending time with them, educating and counseling them about challenges they’re facing. Working towards all possible solutions — such as life-style changes and preventive measures — rather than functioning as a pill dispenser for every symptom.
What are your hobbies?
In my down time, I enjoy listening to books, TED Talks, lectures on leadership, religion, history, and exploring the latest trends in health promotion and prevention, business and marketing, etc. I also enjoy traveling to different parts of the world. Additionally, I am passionate about operating and helping to establish new faith-based clinics for different faith groups, and I serve on the boards of several non-profit organizations.
What is the best experience you have had in your career?
I love working with residents and other trainees so much that I chose to become faculty at a residency training program and have served in many roles over the years. In addition to the privilege of educating and training, caring for underserved population is my passion. Providing care for patients without access to health care on a weekly, or sometimes daily basis has been the greatest joy of my career. I feel blessed that my career choices have been very rewarding.
What is the most important quality a family physician should have?
Humility with passion to serve others.
How can we attract more medical students to family medicine?
Family medicine as a discipline has done well in terms of getting better compensation for the services we provide for our patients. This needs to be advertised widely to students to help remove the long-standing stigma that family medicine doesn’t pay well enough to reduce the debt burden medical students face today.
Additionally family medicine as a specialty needs to be at the forefront of leading health care provider wellness and should be able to mitigate the burnout crisis health care professionals are facing.
What advice would you offer to medical students selecting their specialty?
Recognize the real reason you want to become a physician — caring for the most vulnerable members of society in the time of their greatest need. Don’t underestimate power of healing a physician provides with compassionate listening and a caring attitude.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at email@example.com or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.