Becoming a Change Maker: Syed Haider

Syed Haider bears many identities: graduating medical student, Student Council President, Pakistani, Muslim, leader, and change maker. Since the beginning of his medical career at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Syed has been an advocate for social justice and human rights and has been intentional about his efforts.

We sat down with Syed to get his perspective and advice on becoming a change maker.

How does a leader effect change?

As a leader you have to engage with [various people], who want to bring change.You have to always think about how to service people and how to give the best for his constituents.


How has your faith influenced your career in medicine?

Faith helps you to reconnect with yourself and allows you to focus your energy in the right way.

Growing up as a Muslim, one of the quotes that has strikes me the most from our holy book the Quran is that ‘if you’ve saved one life, then you’ve saved mankind.’ I think that was a very powerful anecdote growing up that allowed me to view medicine as this platform to bring change in society by helping one person at a time.



How would you describe your role in the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program?

There was already an existing faculty clinic that assisted asylum seekers.

Working with Dr. Atkinson and other students to co-found a student leadership structure for the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program. The purpose of creating that structure was so that more students could be part of an initiative that can help other asylum seekers and refugees. In the past two years we have seen more than 200 asylum seeker cases and applications that students have assisted in.

For me, creating a systemic change in that process has been an integral part of my medical career.


How do you hope people will see you as a leader in the future?

As an activist when I take on an initiative to address something, I’m more concerned with how it will help those coming behind me rather than thinking about how I will be perceived when addressing those issues.

What social justice initiatives are you most passionate about addressing?

We know that from reading literature, that racism or any type of singling out individuals negatively affects their care. One thing that I am motivated in addressing is health disparities and racism in medical care, including Islamophobia.

True or False: Impact requires connection.

In order to galvanize people together for one specific topic, you need like-minded leaders who are motivated, passionate, and have the right resources to bring the change. I think that creating a leadership structure all ideas are addresses. Similar to the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program, like-minded people were able to jump in and become part of a community that was bigger than themselves.

What advice would you give future change makers?

I’d say to never give up in addressing a specific topic that they’re excited about. Address it in the most equitable and passionate ways that they can. And find allies along the way that can help them to support that specific topic.

How can minorities courageously use their voices to share their stories?

I think the first step, is to find allies who are motivated and driven to address those specific topics [of a person’s interest]. Once you have identified those allies, then you have to identify what are the priorities of each stakeholder, which will help you align the mission going forward.

In the Spotlight: Harinee Maiyuran

What are some of the ways you think the LCME process impacts your day to day work?

From creating an expectation for the way our school should operate, to balancing the delicate yet vast responsibilities of a hospital, Sinai has countless people to serve, and a million different responsibilities. Using LCME guidelines helps ensure consistency across not only our medical school but also across the many, many medical schools throughout the country. Ultimately, the goal is to create the best doctors possible, and consistency is a vital component of those who are considered the best. The environment cultivated by the LCME process will determine how we carry out our work each day.

What do you think you can contribute to the LCME process?

As a student, I have the opportunity to interact with the medical school in a unique way. I enjoy thinking about the impact of administrators and teachers on our daily lives, and appreciate Sinai’s willingness to hear student feedback and make positive change based on our opinions. The LCME process has provided the perfect space to share my thoughts and reflections. Living the Sinai experience means that I also get the opportunity to take some of the ideas students have during conversations within ourselves, and transmit them to those in charge…the “adults,” if you will.

Harinee Maiyuran

Medical Student, Class of 2020 

LCME Role: Educational Program for MD Degree Subcommittee

What is your favorite vacation destination

My favorite vacation destination is home, Southern California. The ability to go to the beach, the city, and the mountains in a single day is a special one, and I love that I get to call such a place home. The impact of the outdoors on my mental health and sanity cannot be understated.

In the Spotlight: Bee Jaworski

What do you think you can contribute to the LCME process?

Given the amount of curricular materials and information encompassed under the Education Program Subcommittee’s standards and work, I hope to contribute both my organizational skills and ideas, and any knowledge I have regarding curricular support.

What are some of the ways you think the LCME process impacts your day to day work?

One of the coolest things I notice about the LCME process is the amount of information and data shared during the self-study process, which has helped me better understand both our curriculum and the curricular map. Working on questions pertaining to our curriculum has illuminated parts of the curricular “map” for me, in that I am able to learn more about aspects that I typically have little interaction with. For example, I have read information about or participated in discussions regarding some of the Year 2 courses, ASM (Art and Science of Medicine), and the clinical curriculum. Knowing more about the curriculum as a whole helps me better understand and appreciate the work of my fellow OCS (Office of Curricular Services) team members.

The data collection involved in the LCME process also helps me understand the origins behind—and the drivers of change in—our policies and curriculum. It is pretty cool to hear about where the curriculum has been previously, how it has evolved and changed based on student feedback and data, and to consider how it may be changing in the future in light of new data and research. Being able to appreciate the thought and attentiveness that goes into our current curriculum is inspiring in my daily work.

Bee Jaworski

Year 1 Course Coordinator

LCME Role: Key Staff Member, Educational Program for MD Degree Subcommittee

What is your favorite vacation destination?

My favorite thing to do on vacation is travel and see new places, so I don’t have a favorite per say – however, I previously studied abroad in China and am excited to visit again in the future!

In the Spotlight: Staci Leisman

What do you think you can contribute to the LCME process?

As a course and clerkship director, I have hands-on knowledge of the curriculum across all 4 years.  I hear regularly from students about what content and learning modalities they find helpful and informative, and can bring that feedback to our own meetings.  I can also provide the perspective of an educator who is immersed in the ISMMS curriculum.

What are some of the ways you think the LCME process impacts your day to day work?

The LCME process helps me grow and learn as an educator by compelling me to take a deep dive into my own curricula and examine what is working and what could be improved.  Of course, I try to do this yearly, but the LCME process makes that assessment more formalized and rigorous.  It helps me to innovate and apply best practices into my own courses and allows me to hear from and learn from a diverse group of stakeholders.

What is your favorite vacation destination?

This is a tough one!  I love vacations where I can explore and be active — no sitting on a beach.  And I definitely prefer to go to new places and see new things.  This summer we are going to Yellowstone — our first big family vacation — and will be hiking, white water rafting, zip-lining and horseback riding.  I’m making an early prediction that this will be my favorite.

Staci Leisman, MD

Course Director for Intro to Internship and Physiology; Associate Professor of Medical Education and Nephrology

LCME Role: Faculty Subcommittee Member


In the Spotlight: Rachel Pinotti

The LCME Self-Study Subcommittees are a critical component of our School’s accreditation initiative. Participation on a subcommittee requires a large time commitment and a willingness to learn about and assess every facet of the School. We are so proud of the work that the subcommittees have done already and very much appreciate their steadfast commitment to the process.

Each month, we will spotlight one of the many subcommittee members who are contributing to the success of this process. This month’s spotlight is Rachel Pinotti.

Rachel Pinotti, MLIS, AHIP

Assistant Library Director, Education and Resources

LCME Role: Faculty Subcommittee Member

What are some of the ways you think the LCME process impacts your day to day work?

This is my first experience participating in the LCME accreditation process and I was interested to see what information the LCME asks on the Data Collection Instrument (DCI) pertaining to library services.  The DCI states, “A medical school provides ready access to well-maintained library resources sufficient in breadth of holdings and technology to support its educational and other missions. Library services are supervised by a professional staff that is familiar with regional and national information resources and data systems and is responsive to the needs of the medical students, faculty members, and others associated with the institution.”  This is the work my colleagues and I are doing day in and day out in the library—ensuring access to a high quality collection curated to meet the needs of the ISMMS community and offering services to ensure our users are able to make meaningful use of these resources.  While I always find my work gratifying, it adds an extra sense of purpose to know that the LCME sees our work as an essential part of a high quality medical education.

I was also excited to learn that ISMMS students scored Levy Library slightly higher than the national average for library services on the Graduation Questionnaire (GQ).  We always try to go above and beyond for our students, so it’s nice to know that they notice and appreciate what we do.

What do you think you can contribute to the LCME process?

Time, attention, and thoughtfulness.

What is your favorite vacation destination?

Italy!  I fell in love with Italy during a semester abroad in college and the love affair has continued ever since.  Perhaps not coincidentally, I married a first generation Italian-American and we try to go back as often as possible to visit our family and friends there.  Our son just turned one and we took him for the first time this summer, which was really special.  If you’ve never been, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Everyone needs a little dolce vita in their life.