ACGME-I Honoring Excellence: Q and A with Zehra Mazhar

This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2024 ACGME International Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of current and previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) around the world represent the best in the field. They will be honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, taking place 7-9 March 2024, in Orlando, Florida, US. 

2024 ACGME International Staff Awardee Zehra Mazhar is the institutional director for graduate medical education (GME) at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) in Doha, Qatar. ACGME-I spoke with Ms. Mazhar about her career and what receiving this award means to her. 

ACGME-I: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically? 

Ms. Mazhar: Being a doctor has always been a childhood dream as I wanted to be of service to ailing patients. I always was a great listener, empathetic and compassionate to both my family and friends, listening to their ailments, consoling them. Due to cultural issues pertaining to my family I couldn’t pursue medicine, [so] instead I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics thinking that, directly or indirectly, I would be in contact with patients. I started working in a hospital where I was very much satisfied as I could interact directly with patients. 

In 2005, I relocated to Doha. My prayers were answered when one day I came across in an advertisement in the local newspaper for medical interpretation training at Weill Cornel Medical College, Qatar. I was overwhelmed seeing my dreams coming true, and with my husband’s support I enrolled in the training. After a wait of more than a year, I was offered a medical interpreter job in the Medical Education Department in HMC. I was mainly helping the Weill Cornel Medical students and doing administrative roles, and this is how I got more and more involved in academic medicine specifically. I am very satisfied with my journey from 2008 until now. 

ACGME-I: What does this award mean to you? 

Ms. Mazhar: This award has cemented my faith in my passion to do my best with dedication, passion, and hard work, which is rewarded. 

ACGME-I: As this award reflects the many contributions you’ve made to GME in Qatar, what would you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of your role? 

Ms. Mazhar: My journey from program coordinator to becoming an institutional coordinator was the most rewarding aspect of my role. 

ACGME-I: How has the overall strengthening of GME, especially through international accreditation benefited Qatar’s medical education and health care system? 

Ms. Mazhar: HMC getting [ACGME International] accreditation has been a great achievement. This accreditation has taken GME at HMC to another level in terms of the training being structured and learner-centered, and in return the process of patient care has not only improved but is at par with many international academic health care centers. 

ACGME-I: As a female leader in GME, what do you hope to see to further strengthen the position of women in medical education? 

Ms. Mazhar: [I hope to see more] encouraging and strengthening of young female graduates from local universities to pursue internships to know more about the role of coordinators in medical education. [I also hope to see] more workshops to update current coordinators. 

Read more about the winners of the 2024 ACGME International Awards, as well as recipients from past years. 

Learn more about the ACGME International Awards and consider nominating a deserving GME community member for one of the 2025 Awards. The nomination cycle will open after the ACGME Annual Educational Conference.