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Resident Spotlight: Shareena Rahman, MD

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Shareena Rahman, MD, chose neurology after seeing how it allowed clinicians to answer challenging cases beyond the reach of other specialties. Now in her junior assistant residency year at Duke, Rahman talks to us about what she’s looking forward to over the next 2 ½ years, bringing her experience and knowledge of internal medicine to the study of neurology, and encountering political unrest while visiting family in Bangladesh.

How did you get interested in neurology? What are you most looking forward to about your JAR year?
I was enticed by neurology as a specialty as a medical student when challenging questions were posed about patients, such as what was causing a change in the patient’s mental status. I could readily tell that these were questions that many clinicians did not feel comfortable answering but my mentor in neurology (Dr. Fred Wooten) was usually not puzzled. I was intrigued by how thorough the assessment could be even when the patient was not cooperative.

I wanted to be able to develop the knowledge and skills to determine how an individual's brain was functioning. As a second year, I hope to become proficient in managing inpatient neurological illnesses with some independence and  to easily distinguish when cases are better explained by non-neurological conditions. Most importantly, I want to learn about a wide range of neurological problems that I did not know of previously!

What have you enjoyed the most about your year as an internal medicine resident? What was the most surprising element of your residency so far?
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my internal medicine year as an intern. We do a lot of time on cardiology services at Duke and I learned much about how to manage these conditions. I hope I can continue to keep that perspective in mind, particularly for stroke neurology where there is a large intersection between the two subjects. It is interesting to me, how very different the preferences of treatment can be between fields even with small decisions such as antibiotic or anti-hypertensive choices between medicine and neurology.

What has been the most interesting experience of your year as a Junior Assistant Resident so far?
Trying to master the neurological exam because that is the foundation of trying to differentiate neurological disorders. I've also enjoyed getting to know everyone in this close knit program and realizing how unique/fun all of our personalities are.

What area of neurology interests you the most? What would be your dream job (or a dream job if you have more than one)?
Currently, I am most interested in neuro-oncology because of the aggressive nature of the disease and the need to better understand its mechanisms, possible treatments, and the journey for the patients/families. Other aspects of neurology that I am looking forward to learning more about include neuro-immunology, epilepsy, and stroke.

Before starting your internship, you visited Bangladesh. What was the purpose of that trip, and what was the trip like?
What one memory of the trip stands out the most?

I was born in Atlanta and still have some family over there so may visit every couple of years. I've been visiting since I was a little kid. I wanted to visit Bangladesh prior to starting residency to reacquaint with my roots and my close relatives before starting a new phase of life. It had been a few years since I had visited and each time I go back, I notice different things about the culture and lifestyle there.

At the time I visited, there was much political unrest so we had to readjust our plans which was an interesting experience--there was a restriction on driving as in people were supposed to stay at home which made it very difficult to visit friends/family in different parts of the main city. So we could only go out when our felt like it was safe to offer their car and safe for the specific destination. We were still able to get around to an extent but nothing like it normally would be.

Rahman encounters a camel during a visit to Morocco.

One of your interests is trying new restaurants. What’s one favorite or great new restaurant that you’ve discovered in the past year? What other passions or hobbies do you have outside of the Department?
There are many great restaurants in the Durham area. Places that have made a great impression include M. Sushi and Mateo’s for the presentation, ambience, and delicious food. My other hobbies include dance, yoga, local festivals, long walks, French language, listening to music, and travel/cruises.