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Resident Spotlight: Ovais Inamullah, MD

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The subject of this week’s Resident Spotlight interview is living proof that, contrary to stereotypes, doctors often make great communicators. As an undergraduate, Ovais Inamullah, MD, was part of the number-one ranked debate team in the country. Now the second-year resident is providing clinical care for patients in our general neurology clinics, neuro intensive care unit (neuro ICU), and other locations, and dreaming of a career in academic medicine. In this interview, Inamullah talks about how he got started in neurology, how he almost became a math teacher, and how his debate work helps him talk to patients and before an audience.

What are your current responsibilities as a Junior Assistant Resident? What does a typical day look like for you?
It depends on the rotation, which changes every month, but our primary responsibilities mostly revolve around patient care, including writing notes, doing admissions/discharges, placing orders, doing procedures, and coordinating their care. We are the primary providers on services like stroke, general, and the neuro ICU, and provide advice to other providers on the consult service.

How did you first get interested in neurology?
I first became interested in neurology during my neuroscience classes in medical school. I was fascinated by the complexity of neuroanatomy, and was astonished by the number of neurological diseases that still had no treatments.

What’s been the most memorable aspect of your time as a resident so far?
The most memorable part so far honestly has been outside the hospital, mostly all the new friends I have made here and the times we have spent together.

What did you want to be growing up? If you weren’t a neurologist, what would you be?
I would have been a math teacher. Math was always my favorite subject because every problem is a new puzzle, and there is always a right answer. As a teacher, I enjoyed helping students understand that math concepts they were struggling with were easier than they thought.

What do you plan on doing once you complete your residency/fellowship? What would your dream job be?
I am still deciding on what fellowship to pursue. I am deciding between a couple including neuro ICU, stroke/interventional, neuro-immunology, and neuro-oncology. My dream job would probably be at an academic setting where I could see patients, do research, and teach the next generation of neurologists. And of course in my dream job, I am making billions of dollars.

As an undergraduate you, were a national debate champion, winning the prestigious Rex Copeland award twice, and placing second in the National Debate tournament as a junior. How did you get involved in debate, and what was your secret?
I was on the debate team for eight years, four in high school and four in college at Emory. My older brother was also on the debate team, so that is how I got involved originally. We were the number one ranked debate team in the country in 2010 and 2011, and won several national debate tournaments including Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Texas national debate tournaments. I'm not sure I had a secret, I just really enjoyed the activity and put in a lot of effort.

How have you been able to use your debating skills in your interactions with your patients or fellow doctors?
It has actually been incredibly helpful. An essential part of being a doctor is communicating with your patients and colleagues. I feel like am able to do this more effectively because of my history with debate.

I think my experience in debate is most helpful when I am trying to explain a difficult concepts to patients. Also, it was extremely helpful when I was giving the M&M conference to the neurology department. I already have extensive experience speaking in front of large groups, which made me very comfortable during the presentation.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of Duke?
I am a big sports fan (Go Dallas Cowboys!). I am a music fan and like going to concerts. I travel whenever I can - including frequent trips to Atlanta where my family is. I go to the gym. I like trying to new restaurants. And for the past year, I have been dating a girl named Sana who has been my main passion/hobby.

Inamullah and Sana enjoy a weekend on Lake Jordan.