By Irfan Ahmed Siddiqui, MBBS Class of 2012
Assalaam-u-laikum respected president, dean, faculty, parents, and my fellow graduates.
Today marks a milestone. Not only for my fellow doctors and me, but for the institution that made us so. From its conception, The Aga Khan University has produced scores of professionals who through the years have forged a tradition of excellence, including the School of Nursing, and the Institute of Educational Development. Twenty-five years ago the Aga Khan University graduated it’s first batch of doctors. I consider myself privileged to now join a league of individuals who have upheld the highest principles of our profession with grace and dedication. Through academia, clinical practice, and public service, scores of graduates have set a high bar for us all to live up to.
The journey from student to doctor for me has been a rewarding one. I now realize that when I first set foot inside the walls of AKU, I knew little, if anything, about the practice of medicine. While I had always been a dedicated student of science, I came to realize here at AKU the depth of its application and its limits. Like many, I came riding in on a white horse, staff in hand, ready to cure and deliver humanity from the crippling effects of disease and illness. But my education here has instilled in me something greater, more powerful, and more enduring. Through countless hours spent over books, listening to lectures, caring for patients in the clinics and wards, I have been humbled by the extraordinary limitations of our work. We live in exciting time for medicine. An enormous amount resources and time are poured into research and advancement of treatment modalities every day. We are seeing a shift to newer, less invasive and safer forms of treatments for conditions that in the past have resulted in risky surgeries lasting hours; and we are seeing the development of newer, more effective drugs for the devastating diseases of our time.
But while we have built this seemingly colossal and sophisticated armamentarium against our adversary that is disease, we are time and time again reminded of our constraints. I am reminded of a patient I once saw in clinic: a young mother recently diagnosed with cancer whose only option was severely disfiguring surgery with a small chance of survival. Her relatives looked deploringly into our eyes for some hope. Us, the doctors who are entrusted with something as unyielding and fragile as human life. Moments such as these remind us of a humbling reality that although we wield a remarkable ability to perform tremendous life-saving procedures, sometimes all we can offer is compassion and a comforting hand.
So we now turn the page in our extraordinary journeys. We leave here today as enlightened individuals, as professionals, as doctors, nurses and teachers entrusted with the privilege of serving society with our knowledge, skills, and resources. We have been molded into this unique role by the extraordinary teachers and professors who sit before us today and our families who have supported us throughout our endeavors for which we all are highly grateful. Let us enter this new chapter with grace and humility. Hippocrates, who is considered the Father of Medicine, once said, “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.” I have always loved medicine from the moment I set foot into AKU. Let us not forget that while we enjoy a respected position in society, we love and serve humanity.
To my fellow graduates: nurses, teacher and doctors, we each have shared a marvelous time together. These have been trying and testing times for many of us. We have been initiated into the art of nursing, teaching and medicine, learning about ourselves and our place in society along the way. I hope we all find success and fulfillment in the years and decades to come and continue to grow as professionals and individuals. Congratulations, I wish you all the best of luck.