meet: Dr. Shamoon Ahmad:
Doctor says volunteering more important, inspirational than ever
Name: Dr. Shamoon Ahmad.
What’s new with you?
One of the most important developments is the creation of the Southern Nevada Community Foundation. It is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2009 at the height of the recession by a group of local doctors to serve the medical needs of unemployed and uninsured individuals in Las Vegas. With the help of volunteer physicians, the foundation manages two medical clinics that provide free medical care in Las Vegas.
All of us set out in the middle of our careers to try to help people who needed basic medical care, and our patients ended up helping us. It is like a return to basic medicine. Our patients have helped us fall in love with medicine all over again. It has been a chance to do good for people in our small corner of the world.
Since its inception, the clinics have served more than 1,000 patients and provided medical services, drugs and free laboratory services worth more than $200,000.
Why is charity so important to you?
My wife, Lubna Ahmad (also a physician), and I believe in giving back to the community. We have been blessed with many things and have the desire to help those in need.
In the past few years, we have seen many people lose their jobs and their savings; they need help. Many of the patients that we work with have never had to worry about access to medical care. They spent a lifetime covered by insurance and had all the access they needed. When the changes in the economy happened so suddenly, there was a real need.
From the beginning, after seeing the very first patients, Lubna and I knew we were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing. We both have well-established practices. We value all of our patients. At the end of the day, I just love the idea that we are able to help.
Please explain your philanthropic endeavors.
Besides providing free medical care from two locations, the Southern Nevada Community Foundation supports a food bank and assists other local grassroots organizations such as churches and the Clark County Medical Reserve Corps.
We also founded Summerlin Academy for Education and Cultural Exchange, a public charity that collaborates with interfaith groups such as the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada and the Las Vegas Valley Interfaith Sponsoring Committee, as well as local churches and Islamic institutions.
Another way is to support public service organizations, such as Nevada Public Radio. We support them, and I sit on the board of directors of Nevada Public Radio. I am constantly amazed at the commitment that Southern Nevadans have shown to helping others.
What inspires you to help others?
Americans have big hearts, and we are the world leader in charitable giving locally and internationally. In times of need, we have even assisted our enemies. When we see our fellow Americans struggling, we need to open our hearts and our wallets for the common good.
Working as a physician and an oncologist treating people with terminal cancer, one learns to be patient, respectful of life and health, and to be thankful of what you have. Those not as fortunate in health or wealth need our assistance and attention.
I find myself being inspired by my wife’s work, our patients and our staff members every single day. The truth is, I would probably pay to do the work I get to do every day.
What is the best business advice you have received, and who did it come from?
The best advice I ever received can be summed up in three words: hard work, perseverance. I am not sure where it came from, but it seems to have worked for me as it has for others.
If you choose a path that you love, it is as if your career is an extension of your life’s goals. I have always focused everything I have on my education, and now my patients, but it doesn’t really seem like work at all. It is simply what I felt I should be doing all my life.
What challenges do you face doing business here?
The fortunes and income of many have declined, and as a result, charitable giving has decreased significantly. This has hindered the work of many nonprofit organizations. Las Vegas is a relatively small city with mostly middle-class people, therefore the effect of recession has been more severe here. However, we are grateful to those who continue to support our local nonprofit organizations.
What’s the best part about living in Las Vegas?
I moved here from New York City, where I trained. Since I moved more than 15 years ago, I have never regretted my decision. My daughter is in the ninth grade and my son graduated from high school in Las Vegas and is presently attending medical school in Arizona.
Las Vegas has the feel of a large city, yet is small enough to know the community members. We feel very comfortable here. For 15 years, it has always felt like home.
What are you reading right now?
I am an amateur photographer, so I am reading a book on photography.
What do you do after work?
These days, I am watching election TV. Normally, I don’t watch a lot of TV. After work, I like to spend time with my wife and daughter at home.
Describe your management style.
I like to analyze and break down problems into smaller components and then execute them independently. I like to delegate work and usually do not interfere if the expected goals are being achieved.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would love to have the opportunity to work for a large health care company where I can use my experience as a physician and manager. This will allow me to also pursue my objective of providing health care to those in need and perhaps combining the nonprofit side of medicine with the for-profit organizations.
Whom do you admire and why?
I admire people who volunteer. They look outside themselves and care about others.
I also have to say, when you work in chemotherapy, you routinely meet some extraordinarily strong people. My staff and I often treat people whose strength and courage is an inspiration. Sometimes, it is the seemingly most frail of us who show amazing courage.
It is the same with our patients we serve at the free clinic. Some of our patients find themselves losing their homes, on the verge of bankruptcy, and they manage to stay strong in the toughest of situations. I feel lucky to be in their midst. These are a constant source of inspiration.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Pictures and wall hangings that are not straight.
What is something that people might not know about you?
That I can sing. No, just joking.
Anything else you want to tell us?
In the spirit of volunteering, I want to ask your readers to consider volunteering, at any level and with any organization.