Jawaher Abdulaziz Alfassam passed the required exams to pursue her medical degree.
Explore This IssueACEP News: Vol 31 – No 12 – December 2012
But in Saudi Arabia, where female emergency physicians aren’t the norm, Dr. Alfassam said it wasn’t enough. So she passed them again. And again. After that third tryAfter that third try, Dr. Alfassam said it was clear to school officials that she wasn’t going to give up – so they allowed her to enter the program.
“It’s a very male dominated society and not typical for a woman to want to pursue a medical degree, but after I took the test again and again, it was allowed,” Dr. Alfassam said. “After that third time, they asked me why I wanted to be an emergency physician. I told them it would be rewarding to help people in their most serious time of need.”
An expert in internal medicine, Dr. Alfassam said she and three of her classmates became the first four women to be emergency physicians in Saudi Arabia. She is one of 10 overall. An ACEP member since 2004 and graduate of King Saud University’s College of Medicine, she currently works at Security Forces Hospital under the Ministry of the Interior. Alfassam, 54, balances work with spending time with her three grown children.
“When you see a patient seriously ill, unable to breath, and they recover, that’s the most rewarding thing you can experience,” Dr. Alfassam said.
She adds that there are still some challenges being a female physician in Saudi Arabia, but over the years, people have come to know her for the job she does.