Former refugee knows the “true nature of a physician”

Medical school is far from the hardest thing Nasim Faryabi has faced in her life. Persecuted because of her faith and twice a refugee, she experienced compassionate health care after a speeding car left her severely injured.

Nasim Faryabi, D.O.'19
Nasim Faryabi, D.O.’19

Nasim Faryabi, D.O.’19, isn’t the only person whose first trip to Iowa was for an interview at DMU, but she likely had one of the most arduous journeys getting here. She grew up in Iran as a follower of the Bahá’i religion, whose members have long been persecuted there and denied civil rights and liberties, including access to education. Her family immigrated to central Turkey when she was 10. Her mother, a nurse and her role model, became known as the “doctor” among the refugees in the poor village where they lived. One morning, Faryabi was delivering a bottle of Betadine solution for a baby with an infection when she was struck by disaster in the form of a speeding car. 

The blow fractured her right femur, severely injured her knees and ankles and required that she be transferred to a more developed city for treatment. She found herself comparing the two orthopedic surgeons on staff – one who performed traction on two other patients without anesthesia, and the other who used general anesthesia to give the treatment to Faryabi. 

“He would talk with me and my family. He took in account not just my physical condition but also how I was doing emotionally and socially,” she says. “He taught me the true nature of a physician. I wanted to be like him.” 

After living in Turkey for two years, her family immigrated again, to Kansas City, KS. Again, Faryabi didn’t know the language, and academically she was behind her peers. But she had a mission of becoming a physician and experience in coping with the challenges of being an immigrant. Her mother further inspired her. 

“She wanted to get her nursing degree again. As a young kid, it’s hard to learn a new language, but I can’t imagine what that was like for my parents,” she says. “I remember when she was studying for her boards. She passed. She was a motivation for me.” 

In a big way: Faryabi earned her undergraduate degree in biology at the University of California-Irvine and was accepted into DMU’s osteopathic medical program. In her second year, she tutored first-year students in pathology, immunology and osteopathic manual medicine. 

“Through teaching, I recognized that a devoted physician must first and foremost be a great educator to maximize shared decision-making and improve understanding of disease prevention and health maintenance,” she wrote in her personal statement. “To further enhance my clinical knowledge and satisfy my desire to help the underserved community, I started volunteering in a free clinic where I served a patient population similar to the one which I was once a part of.” 

Now on rotations in California, Faryabi continues to volunteer at a local free clinic. And she plans to use her past experiences to be a compassionate family physician attuned to her patients. 

“I believe that building rapport with patients and addressing their needs and concerns is vital to practicing whole-person care,” she says. “I am confident that as a future family physician, I will build strong relationships with my patients. I will serve my patients the way that I was treated as a young, helpless refugee in Turkey. 

“Serving the medically underserved communities has been my lifelong goal,” she adds. “I am looking forward with optimism and excitement to the privilege of serving humanity as a family physician.”