On the frontlines in Iran

Human and Social Development

Mahmood Tara.

UVic Health Informatics graduate (PhD '07) Mahmood Tara, MD, was recently appointed dean in the Faculty of Medicine in Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, one of the most highly ranked faculties of medicine in Iran. He is the elected fellow of International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics (IAHSI), a member of the WHO digital health global roster of experts, and a UN/WHO consultant in health/hospital information management.

Below, he discusses his work helping to fight COVID in Mashad, Iran.

Did you always know you wanted to be a doctor? What made you choose that path?

“I always wanted to help people, ease their life, and contribute to people-centred concepts. I found becoming a doctor to be the best job for me to become such a person. Now, after 30 years, although I am mostly in charge of the management side of the medical-practicae environment, I think I am still on the right track.”

How did you manage to keep going and cope when you were losing colleagues to COVID?

“COVID has changed everybody’s life, particularly those working… in medical centres, dealing with C19 patients. The nurses, doctors, staff, and particularly the patients in COVID zones are in a very high-risk zone, many of them are coming and leaving life in just a few hours. We have lost several doctors, nurses and staff—all of them were well known and are remembered as dedicated people who put their lives in danger for the sake of people. The battle still continues, and we are praying for all everyday.”

What are some of the key concepts that you learned at UVic that you are implementing?

“I definitely learnt a lot at UVic. The best experience for me was the excellent mentorship I received from my supervisors. This mentorship included time management, deep thinking, effective writing, presentation skills, collaboration and teamwork and professionalism. I am always thankful to my mentors, who taught me a lot. As the matter of fact, due to their continuous support, in 2020 I was elected as the fellow of International Academy of Health Sciences Informatics, which was an honour for me.

“In addition, UVic taught me that learning environment matters a lot. UVic has a very standardized setting for an education environment that combines joy and pleasure with learning experiences. Every corner of UVic, from building architecture to landscape design, from bus stop to UVic store, from Finnerty Gardens to housing, has been designed as a well-thought and implemented learning space that makes UVic lifelong memorable. I am now thinking how to bring some of such mindful thoughts into my school and my students.”

What is life like in Mashad?

“Mashhad is a big, beautiful city of three-million population with a large a set of fluctuating population due to tourism. Every year, around 25 million tourists visit Mashhad. The city has one of the best bicycle paths in the country, making it a favourite city for me as I love bicycling. I used to bike from home to school, a seven kilometre-road, and I am planning to set it up again. Several members of my family are living in Mashhad, and I love the life ecosystem here.”

Can you tell us a little about your family?

“I married 27 years ago, and we have had a very happy life so far. My wife, Vida, is a nurse (not practising now). I have two kids (girls), Hoda, 24, and Helia, 19. Both are university students in graphic design (I used to work as a graphic designer for several years when I was young!)”

Is there any moment in your recent medical practice that stands out to you? How about during your time at UVic?

“I am not practising medicine now, however, most of my recent bright moments have been the scenes where my colleagues are helping patients suffering COVID in very critical moments, a lovely bonding between dedicated, smiling and hope-giving lifesaver teams and hopeless, tired and suffering patients.

“The most memorable part of UVic time was its unique, lovely campus life. The combination of beautiful gardens, amazing bicycle paths, tons of study spaces, natural jungles and valleys, excellent family centre and warm coffee shops and restaurants … all makes UVic life hardly forgettable.”


In this story

Keywords: international, alumni, health, administrative, COVID

People: Mahmood Tara

Publication: The Torch

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