To be or not to be

this picture is meant to represent the need for medical student to travel

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a good doctor? Going further, what it is like to be a human?  As a medical student, you must have considered leaving your own trace. In fact, you should believe in yourself and your abilities if you want to take a hand in building a world full of peace. You must raise those potentials!!

Suffering from this hideous nightmare for five years now has ruined various aspects of life on this great piece of earth, our homeland, Syria.  

On the other hand, such circumstances have woken the giant living inside each one of us, each one of those who dream of a better future. We felt it is the best time for us as medical students to build ourselves as skilled doctors and for Syrian students in general to develop their expertise as future builders, to prove to the world that Syria and its people are still here and always will be.

Talking as medical students, the challenge was tremendous, though we didn’t give up. Rather, we started our first step with encouraging Evidence-Based Medicine, raising the awareness about research and organizing clinical workshops, which found students’ acceptance and enthusiasm. Yet, we still have that urgent need to polish our skills and abilities through every possible road. We want to invest the graces we have to reach the sky.

Having those thoughts, we found that one of the best ways to enhance our experience is to go for research programs as well as clinical electives abroad. It is crucial for people like us, living under cruel conditions to go see the world, gain new experience, learn, and share what we know. We believe this is the best way to help the Syrian medical community create a global anchor for new knowledge.

Actually, it is an extremely effective journey to take, after which a lot of ideas, experience, and knowledge to build, help, and shape the new future of Syria will arise. But, it is not that easy for us in Syria to travel and learn, to be honest it is almost impossible for the majority of the students, taking into consideration the difficulties that are facing us as Syrians for the time being. Though, some of our colleagues took the chance and went for a clinical elective at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon. During which they were introduced to a completely new world. Moreover, Some also went for a research program in the labs there.

Below is a quote from Tarek talking about his experience at the AUB,

“Visiting the American University of Beirut (AUB) was a great experience. I was introduced to a whole different more advanced healthcare system, many great minds giving their all to spread knowledge, many great opportunities for undergraduate students. It did add so much to my personality, and hone my clinical and interpersonal skills”.

Hamlet said, “And, by opposing, end them”, that’s how new experience and knowledge, which are gained through the roads we talked about, work. Such science seeks the truth, oppose accepted norms, and then end them.

So, to be or not to be is the challenge, and we know that at some point we will beat ourselves, we will build up the experience we need to reach our ultimate goals.

Eventually, we hope this post forms the flame for an initiative to create the program that every student in war areas dreams of which aims to help those students go for research and clinical visits in different countries around the world.   

 About the Authors:

Mahmoud Alkhatib, 5th year medical student in a 6-year program at Damascus University. I have been graded in the top ten students in the last four years, and have been awarded from the faculty. My interest in research has emerged in the third year, and since then I have started working with my colleagues on some projects to help make the future of our faculty. I will continue on this road since my goal is to be a good researcher who will make a change and leave his imprint.  Mahmoud may be reached at

Tarek Turk, fifth-year medical student in a six-year program at Damascus University, Syria. I have always seen myself as a clinician and a researcher, and have worked hard my entire life to achieve this goal. I believe that we were not meant to pass from this life without leaving a trace, and I decided to leave a trace in science. I have major interests in knowledge synthesis, Evidence-based healthcare, and linking medicine to artificial intelligence. Tarek may be reached at

Suhaib was born in Kamishli, Syria, and earned his bachelor’s degree in May 2015 from Illinois Institute of Technology’s Armour College of Engineering, with earlier studies at Aleppo University and Damascus University. Suhaib majored in Civil Engineering with a concentration in structural engineering. Upon graduation, he accepted a position as a project engineer working on projects throughout the state of Illinois; he lives in Springfield, Illinois. Suhaib previously worked with Jasmine Baladi Studio, an NGO that works to support Syrian children in refugee camps in Turkey. Suhaib regularly writes for the Syrian Students for a Better Future Blog.

To learn more about the Syrian Student Initiative for the Advancement of Undergraduate Research Without Borders, please contact Suhaib at

One Comment Add yours

  1. Mohammad Abd Almohsen says:

    thanks alot.. we hope you best wishes

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