Naznin Jamal, MD
This is the latest in a series of interviews with hospital medicine clinicians connected to the Society of Hospital Medicine (SHM) to share insights, knowledge, and expertise about career opportunities, growth, and development. Today we hear from Naznin Jamal, MD.
Dr. Jamal is a physician team member at Jefferson Hospitalist Services and provides inpatient care at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Ark. She also volunteers at Westside Medical Clinic for the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. When she isn’t caring for patients, Dr. Jamal enjoys traveling with family and reading on diverse issues ranging from history and contemporary social issues. She describes a perfect day as a cold and dark day where she is cozying up with a good book and a cup of hot black milk tea. Dr. Jamal earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and completed a residency in internal medicine at Methodist Hospital in Dallas.
Why did you choose hospital medicine as a specialty?
When I completed my residency, I did not believe I could handle the acuity and complexity of inpatient medicine. I eventually transitioned. I prefer to remain in hospital medicine as I see the benefits as unique from other disciplines. I enjoy the flexibility of the workday, which allows a self-driven, task-oriented workflow. I have a team of specialists, nursing, and ancillary support staff to assist me in managing the patient’s treatment goals. I enjoy solving complex medical presentations with the observance of immediate results. All this allows me to continue working in hospital medicine.
What does your typical workday look like?
The morning starts with clinical rounds. The rest of the day has continued interactions with the rest of the health care team, including specialists and ancillary support staff. I spend the afternoons on documentation and admitting patients from the emergency department and hospitals in our catchment area. We have a daily utilization team consisting of a multi-disciplinary rounding. Lately, I’ve been teaching medical students and training nurse practitioners.
What’s unique about your career or career path?
I was a typical hospitalist with managerial duties starting in the year 2020. As the hospital faced the COVID-19 epidemic, I was promoted to the COVID-19 directorship. Since then, my job has been involved mainly in policy and process development ranging from COVID-19 to other medical inpatient issues.
Describe an important milestone in your career and what made it significant.
The appointment to the medical directorship of the COVID-19 process in April 2020 provided me with a leap forward with organizational planning within a hospital system. I dealt with processes that impacted departments I had never worked with, such as laboratories, central supplies, and environmental services. I learned to appreciate the importance of continued physician education in the community and was involved in an educational initiative with COVID-19.
What’s been the biggest obstacle in your career?
Managing friendships at work while maintaining leadership boundaries. My relationships with my colleagues were challenging, which peaked at the time of COVID-19. However, the relationships continue to evolve.
What surprised you the most about hospital medicine?
I was amazed I would like it so much that I would continue doing it 10 years later. Also, when I am in my “off” stretch, I itch to return for more acute medicine problem-solving.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I see myself in southeast Arkansas managing the hospitalist program and continuing to implement processes that will assist the region in inpatient medical care and access.
What membership benefits offered by the Society of Hospital Medicine have helped you in your career?
Networking—I connect with hospitalists in similar managerial roles and patient populations through special interest groups (SIGs).
Education – The annual SHM conference is the most focused and collective series of lectures about the adult hospitalist. I find reviewing the material beneficial in remaining up-to-date on clinical knowledge.
Access to opportunities outside of inpatient medicine—i.e., SPARK question database
Do you belong to any SHM SIGs, chapters, or committees? If so, which ones and why?
Quality Improvement SIG—The SIG was a refuge during the COVID-19 epidemic. I was at the center of creating policy with processes defined on limited evidence impacting numerous hospital departments. My peers walked me through problem-solving and quality strategies. The Quality SIG members offer a forum for input and perspectives that assist me back home.
Arkansas Chapter—The local chapter enables networking within the state to improve access for patients in underserved populations. This chapter also assists me in modeling local processes from the larger organizations in the state.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Keep playing until you get the shot!
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
You can achieve whatever you aim to do. Pair up with a mentor, and do not limit yourself to one or to one who looks like you. Go for those individuals in your chosen career path and beyond to help you navigate through the trials of life.
Be present. Often that is enough.
If you could trade places for one day with someone else (either a person or profession) in health care, who would it be and why?
Our CNO, Michelle Powell. She came on during the period before COVID-19. Like me, she quickly absorbed the limited knowledge of COVID-19 and worked tirelessly to adapt the hospital. However, her job was difficult as it headed the largest workforce of employed staff. We quickly realized our most limited resource would not be ventilators but nursing staff. Recently, we experienced a county-declared emergency. I witnessed her making constant calls and directing the rest of her peers. She stayed at the hospital overnight until the crisis was resolved. She inspires confidence in those who know her.
Learn more about SHM and the benefits of membership.