Dr. Saoussan Alfahel, M.D., is a pediatrician living her dream at NorthShore Health Centers. Even as a young girl growing up in Damascus, Syria, Alfahel knew what she wanted to pursue.
“Even back in middle school, I always enjoyed babysitting kids,” she said. “I also used to play basketball and I’d teach kids in summer camp how to play. I liked being around kids and I wanted to be a physician, so being a pediatrician was the best fit for me.”
She credits her own childhood pediatrician with sparking her interest in medicine. He had grown up in their home country, pursued higher education in the US, and then returned to practice in Syria.
“He’d graduated from New York but came back to help out kids in our country,” she said. “He was the chief of the pediatric hospital in Syria and was very popular and well known. As my pediatrician, he always encouraged me to follow the same path that he took.”
Becoming a doctor is no easy task, but Alfahel braced herself and took on the challenge.
“It takes a lot of sacrifice, especially coming from a different country,” she said. “You don’t know the language, you deal with a bunch of challenges. Luckily, I was patient and put all of my effort into it, which let me achieve my goal and my mission.”
She took her first steps into the field as a med student at the University of Damascus, the largest and oldest university in Syria. After earning her diploma, she moved on to residency at the Sinai Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Thanks to her talent and hard work, she spent an extra year there as their chief resident.
Sinai Children’s Hospital shares much of the same mission as NorthShore, which is to serve all patients with the highest quality of care regardless of who they are or their ability to pay. Alfahel’s experiences at the hospital serve as a daily motivator.
“Every day at NorthShore is a chance for me to complete the mission that I trained for,” Alfahel said. “I completely understand the population we work with—everyone deserves the same quality of care.”
As a mother to three kids of her own, Alfahel understands what the kids and families she works with are going through. Her goal is not only to treat her patients, but to arm them with the knowledge they need to stay healthy.
“As a mother myself, I need the best for my kids, so I apply that same philosophy to every single patient,” she said. “It’s all about being open-minded and keeping up conversations. I want to educate them, teach about prevention, follow-ups, and the necessity of vaccinations.”
One of the special privileges of being a pediatrician is that you get to watch your patients grow up, and that is something Dr. Alfahel especially loves about her work.
“It gives me a lot of joy,” she said. “You see them when they’re a baby, then they’re a 12-year-old or a 13-year-old. It’s just so rewarding for us pediatricians.”
Alfahel is married and currently lives in Portage. When she is not treating patients at the Hammond NorthShore Health Center, she enjoys basketball, traveling, reading, and spending time with her kids.
Dr. Alfahel is now accepting new patients at the NorthShore Health Centers Clinic in Hammond just south of 169th and Indianapolis Boulevard. For more information on Northshore’s services visit www.northshorehealth.org.