Dr. Shurrab has a passion for research

Dr. Mohammed Shurrab at Health Sciences North in Sudbury, Ontario. LEN GILLIS / NOMJ2019

There are several reasons why physicians from other parts of the world choose to come and work in Northern Ontario.

Dr. Mohammed Shurrab, 39, knew that working in Sudbury would have lifestyle advantages, but he said his real passion is the academic freedom and the ability to do the research he is most interested in.

Shurrab arrived in Sudbury in June of 2018 to continue some of the work he had been doing at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. It was at Sunnybrook and at the Women’s College Hospital that Shurrab took part in specialized cardiology training and for his specialty, cardiac electrophysiology. It means Shurrab treats abnormal heart rhythms and performs ablation procedures.

Shurrab said one of the most attractive parts of being recruited to Health Sciences North was negotiating the parameters of his clinical work – seeing patients – and doing his research work.  He said it is his hope to open an ablation clinic at HSN.

“Every job for me should have the balance between clinical work that meets my skills and training. And it should have some research mandate that will definitely support my goals and my long term plans on advancing my research,” he said.

He was the first to admit he is more than pleased with his role at HSN.  Shurrab, who is now a Canadian, admitted he has come a long way from where he was born and raised as a Palestinian in the embattled war zone of Gaza.

He left home at 17 and attended medical school at a university in Cairo.  He said he had no idea how it would work out for him.

“Because you are lost.  That’s reality.  As a student you are trying to find your way. If I tell you I knew from the first day I entered med school, I would be lying,” he grinned.

“When you are in your med school, you are trying to find your way.  You think, which branch should I get into.  Which specialty, what should I do? And then you make a decision, like getting into cardiology.  I loved it.  You need the right mentors. That’s what it is about.”

He graduated in 2005 and made his way to Toronto where he had to prove his credentials.  Shurrab said he has worked hard to be a good physician, but said he knows there have been times when “being good is not good enough”.

As an immigrant and a medical student breaking into the medical profession in Canada it meant putting in an extra effort to be accepted and recognized. Again, he said, mentors have been everything for him.

“I had a good run of people who were with me all the way along and eventually here in Sudbury it was great to have such support and such mentality from the board, from the CEO, from the chief of cardiology, from the chief of staff, all on the same page. And it continues,” he said.

“Those are very important people to keep you in the right mindset; that I am not doing the wrong thing.”

Shurrab said it is humbling and satisfying at the same time.

Shurrab has also been published in several medical journals, where he has been able to put his name forward and discuss different aspects of his work.

Things like:  “Robotically assisted ablation of atrial fibrillation: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”, as published in the U.S National Library of Medicine.

Shurrab has also applied for and received several grants in the past couple of years to help pay for the costs associated with the research.  He sees it as a win-win for himself, for the hospital and for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, where he is an assistant professor.

Our interview with Shurrab took place on a weekday morning, but it was not a long discussion. Shurrab said he had taken the day off to enjoy time with his wife and family. He said this is an important element in his life. He has a young son and a daughter a few years older, who loves Sudbury because she is able to practice her French with most of the people she meets.  He said he also enjoys the life where he doesn’t have to spend an hour each day commuting to work. His own drive to work is less than 10 minutes.

In the meantime, Shurrab said he is excited because he sees medical research as a growth sector in Sudbury. He said that means more physicians will be looking at Sudbury to pursue their careers and improve the delivery of health care at the same time.

Filed in: Briefs, Education, Featured, News, Research Tags: , ,

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