Patients of Dr. Salim Hosein might be surprised to learn he grew up at the helm of a sailboat. The Herrin bariatric surgeon grew up on the coast and calls himself a water baby.
“I sailed most weekends from the age of four, until we left Pakistan,” said Dr.Hosein. “I sailed in tournaments at a national and international level.”
While he hasn’t been able to get back into sailing since moving to the United States, his children love the water. The doctor plans on making full use of the bodies of water around Southern Illinois and the Gulf Coast, whether for water sports, the beach or fishing.
He wanted to be a physician for about as long as he can remember.
“I certainly went through all the typical phases a young boy does. Firefighter, pilot, racer car driver. But between getting glasses around age five and an enduring interest in medicine made worse by my parents being dentists and professors, and then my older sister going to medical school and practicing physical exam skills on me, my interest in medicine never dimmed.”
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Dr. Hosein underwent major surgeries at a young age, which impacted his perspective and helped him realize surgeons had the unique ability to positively change the course of a patient’s life, outlook and prospects.
“That was an incredible draw for me,” he said.
The surgeon currently practices out of SIH New Life Weight Loss on the campus of SIH Herrin Hospital. He said he’s been blessed to have had so many incredible teachers and mentors along the way.
“My parents were my first inspiration though, instilling in me a work hard, play harder philosophy. My father went on from dentistry to become a head and neck surgeon during my childhood and I grew up reviewing his 35mm surgery slides with him. Several schoolteachers and physicians in my medical school made an indelible impression to get me to the point of medical school graduation, but it was my surgical mentors in residency and fellowship that shaped me into the best version of myself. Now, I find myself continuously inspired by some of my incredible patients, whether recovering from a difficult surgery or making phenomenal personal changes in their weight loss journey.”
Dr. Hosein completed medical school at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, which he credits for establishing his strong knowledge base today. From there, his next steps involved six years of residency training in general surgery between Brown University in Rhode Island and The Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. He reflects on that period as among some of the toughest yet most memorable years of his life; a time when his family grew and they made some “of the greatest bonds of friendship.”
“It was during this time through broad exposure but focused mentorship that I found my calling in the field of minimally invasive surgery and pursued an additional year of fellowship training in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at the University of Nebraska in Omaha.”
Dr. Hosein feels fate had a hand in his family’s move to Southern Illinois.
“Two friends I trained with at Brown University also ended up working at SIH. Between visiting us in New Orleans and us visiting them here, we gained some familiarity with the region before we were considering the job,” explained Dr. Hosein. The “we” includes his wife, Marium, as they considered where to establish.
“We met yet another friend through them who had trained in New Orleans. When the job opportunity in Southern Illinois presented itself, we already had a ready to go support system and social circle which was crucial to our acclimatization to the region. Now, as not-so-fresh transplants, we love the community around us, the amazing school district where our kids flourish and the easy access to big cities without the bothersome pace,” said Dr. Hosein.
Dr. Hosein and Marium have three kids.
“Two humans and a dog,” he laughs.
He said Marium has been his support system through the highs and lows of training and his professional life.
“Our kids have brought joy on even the most depressing days,” he said. “The pandemic really made one introspect and grateful for all of life’s blessings and a loving, supportive family is by far the greatest of these. Our dog, Archie, was a COVID baby and has been the perfect addition to our nuclear bubble. Beyond the immediate family here though, I’m fortunate to have very involved, loving and supportive parents and in-laws, as well as two elder sisters of my own in North America and two siblings-in-law all of whom help keep us grounded through wit and sarcasm. And then a grandmother on each side, without who’s prayers I can’t imagine we would have had all the good fortune we have had!”
Dr. Hosein enjoys woodwork and DIY projects, some of which he confesses “haven’t turned out too terrible.”
“Gardening is a great way to decompress and meditate. Video games have always been an out, though I find there’s not enough time in the day for these now without sacrificing sleep or risking my children hijacking these.”
He also enjoys cooking, but only when he’s feeling brave enough to risk the ire of his wife when she sees the mess in her otherwise spotless kitchen.
What would he do if he weren’t a surgeon?
“While medicine was my calling without doubt, I certainly entertained the ‘what if”’ scenario. Between my love for debate and process, I considered law as an alternate career path. Also, a few of my best friends from high school and I dabbled in software development and went so far as starting a company of our own. Once I got into medical school and my priorities changed towards my professional career, I pulled out of the company, arguably one of the sillier things I’ve done considering they went on to becoming tech moguls!”
He is grateful for the bariatric patients he serves.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to my patients for their trust and the privilege to treat them. In particular, given the type of surgery I practice, a bond between physician and patient is critical to success and COVID has had a big impact on slowing down the process for many patients, yet they continue to show up, be consistent with their lifestyle changes and patient with us as we navigate the process together. I’m so proud of their accomplishments and determination.”