Working With My Pops

One day as a teenager, I was flying down a local community street with my new car, when I saw a cop on the side of the street with his radar gun out. I tried to slow down, but it was too little too late. I nervously pulled to the side of the road. The heart of that pimply wreck of a kid pounded increasingly louder as the cop walked towards the car. The officer said, "can I see your license and proof of insurance please?" I handed him my license, expecting the worst. He then looked at my ID and said, "Bailony huh? Are you Dr. Bailony's son?" I nodded my head yes. The officer exclaimed, "you know that’s my kid’s pediatrician!" He then added, "Do you want a speeding ticket or a warning?"
My Dad loves fishing- Artwork by Saleh Heneidi

For those of you who don't know, I work with my father who’s been a pediatrician in the San Diego area for over 30 years. In fact, I myself was born in one of the hospitals I round in nowadays. My father came to the United States in the 1970's with nothing but a medical degree, and apparently a bunch of bell-bottom jeans. He had no family here, and he didn't really know anyone other than the fellow residents that came with him from Syria. Three decades later, the risk he took to a land unknown has turned into one of the largest private pediatric practices in the south of San Diego.

About a year ago, as I was leaving a patient room, a mother jokingly asked me "How are you a doctor and so young? Do you walk around thinking, 'I'm the S***' all day long?" I replied "No. I walk around thinking that I need a vacation."
Me on vacation

The path that my dad took to get to where he is today is nothing short of amazing. He worked pretty much every day of his life to get to this point in his career. Sometimes like in the mother’s comment above, people think that I have achieved a great deal because of the position where I find myself these days. On the other hand, I constantly find myself asking what it is that I have actually achieved.

If I was one of the kids from the area where my clinic is located, kids that live in poverty and that attend schools with questionable education systems, would I be where I am today? If I was born in Syria instead of a vacation destination I would likely be stuck in the middle of one the worst modern day humanitarian disasters we have seen. Instead, my father paved a way for me that was smooth as silk; and he paved that road with his bare hands in a land that didn't speak his language, didn't have his culture, and didn't know his name.
The sun setting in Aleppo, Syria
Nowadays, it is common for me to see a newborn in the hospital and for the mother of the baby to ask, "is your name Dr. Bailony? That was the name of my pediatrician as a kid."

Sometimes people see me and appreciate my accomplishments. What they should really see is the man who made all of those accomplishments possible. I cannot walk in the footsteps of my father, because no one should. They are footsteps that should be remembered. Instead I can only hope to live up to the name my father has made for himself. So while others may giggle I am proud to be called Dr. Bologna. 


  1. Ahmad, that was the best one so far! Quite inspiring and thought-provoking. I enjoy reading your musings. Keep up the good work. :)

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