Dr. M. Uzair Saqlain sees himself as a coach as much as he is an oncologist.
“Oncology is a specialty where you develop a strong and special bond with your patients,” Dr. Saqlain said. “That bond often begins in the most difficult and uncertain time for our patients and together we form a team with the ultimate goal of returning them to their lives.”
While Dr. Saqlain realized his passion for medicine early in high school, he did not decide to pursue oncology until his residency in the U.S. “I am inspired by the strength, determination and courage of patients undergoing cancer treatment,” he said. “People ask me why I chose a specialty that is sometimes emotionally taxing. I feel this is the most satisfying job, because I am able to help patients when others might lose hope.”
Like many physicians, Dr. Saqlain has learned to listen carefully to his patients, because the details they share are often better than tests. Medicine today is not one-sided. “My greatest hope is that patients find me approachable and honest. I coach and guide, but they are in charge,” he said. “I am driven by the desire to help them at their most vulnerable time, hold their hand and guide them on their journey.”
What was your favorite subject in school and your worst subject? I loved biology and zoology, but I did not enjoy math. As I look back, I think it may be because everyone in my family was superb at math so it was a lot of pressure.
What was your first job? I started building gaming computers for my friends and relatives.
What book is on your nightstand? “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. It’s a memoir about his life and fight against stage IV metastatic lung cancer.
What do you enjoy outside of work? I like to explore technology, especially smart homes and automation. I listen to music when I have time. I’m a country music fan.
King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics