“The foundation of a healthy life rests on finding the meaning and joy in life that is unique and important to you.‘‘
Ahmad Abdl-Haleem is a doctor of osteopathy, a medical doctor who takes a holistic approach to family medicine. He completed his medical studies in 2018 at Des Moines University and his family residency at Northwestern McGaw Family Medicine Residency Program at Humboldt Park.
Ahmad joined Heartland Health Centers last September. For our latest provider profile, we asked him to tell us a bit more about himself and his work. Here’s a Q and A:
Q. How did you find your way to Heartland Health Centers?
A. I like to think Heartland Health Centers found me! My residency advisor and mentor, Anuj Shah, MD, shared how excited he was to accept a position with Heartland Health Centers a few years back. I know he places a huge premium on holistic medicine and social determinants of health–anywhere Dr. Shah went that gave him job satisfaction had to be the perfect place to practice.
Q. What motivates you to provide care in underserved communities?
A. My passion for underserved medicine started with my experience volunteering in several very different yet oddly similar underserved worlds: Rural Wisconsin, the Gaza Strip and Humboldt Park. For me, medicine is more than an occupation. Medicine is a sacred calling and delivering compassionate high-quality healthcare in the very heart of a community is the logical conclusion to my life’s journey.
Q. What inspires you about your work at Heartland in the underserved setting?
A. I love the feeling of caring for people from all walks of life. I’m reminded repeatedly of how much of a privilege and honor it is to be invited into someone’s life and hear someone’s life story and to be a part of a healing process, no matter how great or small.
And I love the amazing people that work at Heartland Health Centers—there is this palpable feeling of family amongst all my coworkers. As a new provider, I feel so incredibly supported and heard. It is very clear that there is a culture of care between our healthcare team as a whole.
Q. As a Doctor of Osteopathy practicing family medicine, how do you explain your specialty to patients?
A. I like to tell people my profession is built on a holistic foundation of care. As a DO, in addition to being trained in the traditional allopathic fundamentals of medicine, we are taught to approach our patients in a comprehensive fashion. From our layered history-taking to thorough physical exams, osteopathic physicians are trained to look beyond flesh and bone. There’s tremendous good in approaching people with this unique multifaceted perspective.
Q. What’s one health tip you often share with patients?
A. I often focus on the fact that good preventative health encompasses more than just exercising regularly and eating healthy. The foundation of a healthy life rests on finding the meaning and joy in life that is unique and important to you. Whether someone finds meaning in culture, spirituality, family, relationships, solitude, community, it plays a critical role in preserving the sense of self amidst the hustle and bustle of the world.
Q. What if any special health tips do you find yourself sharing with your Arab- and/or Spanish-speaking patients?
I highlight the importance of being true to one’s cultural values and not feeling pressured to avoid aspects of culture based on perceived limitations. For example, with my Arab-American and Hispanic diabetic patients, I always emphasize the importance of not avoiding cultural food items like tortillas and pita bread.
Feeling free to express one’s culture through food is so important to psychological well-being and maintaining a sense of self. Instead of attaching negative stigma to important meaningful cultural attributes and banning breads, I like to focus on celebrating different foods and emphasizing moderation and balance.
To make an appointment with Dr. Abdl-Haleem or another provider, contact the call center at 773-751-7800.