Zarah U. Iqbal, MD

The AMA “Members Move Medicine” series profiles a wide variety of doctors, offering a glimpse into the passions of women and men navigating new courses in American medicine.

AMA Moving Medicine magazine

Each issue celebrates members making a difference in the exam room and in the medical profession as physicians, researchers, advocates and leaders.

On the move with: Zarah U. Iqbal, MD, MPH (@doctorzarah), a pediatric resident at University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Iqbal is also vice chair of the AMA Resident and Fellow Section Governing Council.

AMA member since: 2012.

What inspired me to pursue a career in medicine: I grew up seeing my mom as a physician and a huge advocate for her community, and I saw how much meaning that provided her in her life. I got my spirit of advocacy and my passion for caring for children from her.

How I move medicine: I advocate for the most marginalized children in our communities—those in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems who have been denied resources and opportunities.

Career highlights: I’m currently on the board of trustees of the California Medical Association and on the State Government Affairs committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics – California. I’m also the vice chair of the AMA Resident and Fellows Section. I’m most proud of my work on the American Academy of Pediatrics delegation to the AMA House of Delegates.

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Advice I’d give to those interested in pursuing a career in medicine: My advice for someone interested in pursuing a career in health care is to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. It can be a tough job with lots of ups and downs, and it can be really fulfilling as well. If you focus on doing the right thing for your patients and for your community, you will be able to sleep at night and wake up excited to go back to work.

How I give back to the community: As a pediatrician in a safety net setting, I advocate for my patients at the individual and community level by fighting to break down structural causes of health inequity and mobilizing resources to help each child thrive.

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Knocking down barriers to health equity

Aspect of my work that means the most: I particularly appreciate the ability to work with so many thoughtful, smart and compassionate colleagues. The most meaningful part of my work is developing deep relationships with my patients and their families, and to partner with them to guide how children grow up in my community. Kids are the best!

My hope for the future of medicine: I envision a world in which every child has the opportunities and support to thrive and grow into healthy, fulfilled adults—a world in which we end structural health inequities and dedicate resources to preventing illness and promoting health starting in childhood.

Visit MembershipMovesMedicine.com to learn more about other AMA members who are relentlessly moving medicine through advocacy, education, patient care and practice innovation, and join or renew today.

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