Many seventh-graders struggle to excel at their own schoolwork.
But that’s the year Syed M. Faisal Alam realized not only could he complete his own lessons, he could tutor classmates who needed a helping hand up.
He’s been reaching out ever since.
“The primary things I worked on were math, and as I grew older, also physics, geography and history,” Dr. Alam says. “There are few things more important than taking the time to reach out and help another human being. That really counts for something. Now, I find myself contemplating every day, how to save someone’s life.”
A native of Pakistan, Syed went on to become Dr. Alam, graduating from a medical school in his home country, then coming to the United States in 2002, where he eventually became licensed to practice as a vascular surgeon.
Over the last two decades, he has come to specialize in three disciplines of vascular surgery: limb preservation, aortic surgery and strategies to address end-stage dialysis access.
The son of an engineer and an educator – and brother to a sister who works as a critical care doctor – Dr. Alam was affiliated with upwards of a dozen different hospitals and medical centers before joining Dr. Mustapha and Dr. Saab as part of the Advanced Cardiac and Vascular Centers.
His philosophy of work is people-centric: “The most important part of me being a good surgeon,” he says, “completely revolves around good patient care. Every patient needs to be treated like a VIP, because when they come in to see us, we are sometimes their last ray of hope.”
Addressing patients who sometimes have been given grim prognoses by others, he says that he takes it very personally to explore alternative options that might reduce their anxiety and provide them better tomorrows: “My job is to make sure the patient is well taken care of. And if I can prolong their life and decrease their suffering, that’s what it’s all about.”
Married to Sadia, who works as a psychiatrist, the couple has three sons and live in Portage, Michigan. Dr. Alam enjoys reading and loves music. His interests include classic cars and sports.
A stickler for a good night’s sleep, Dr. Alam is conscientious about being in bed by 10 p.m. and rising no later than 5:30 a.m., allowing him to put in work weeks that often exceed 80 hours.
He laughs to consider how some of his friends and colleagues wish he’d sleep in a bit later than what he does: “I start texting and e-mailing at 6 in the morning.”