Medical student Sara H Rahman was working at her placement when it was time to call the next patient on the doctor’s list.
She informed the patient that she was a student, and asked if she could examine him before the attending.
Writing about the interaction for Pulse Voices, an online blog written by members of the medical community, she explained:
We chuckle, and then I check his vitals, review his medications and ask him about his back pain.
During the course of her examinations, he revealed that he had been stressed and angry.
These Muslims think they can blow up our country…
I want to take care of them for good and send them all packing. They aren’t welcome here!
Rahman's parents emigrated from Pakistan to the US 30 years ago.
Rahman is also a Muslim.
My pen slips from my fingers and falls to the floor. He keeps talking, but I can't take in his words. I need to escape… To calm down and digest this shock.
‘Excuse me a moment,’ I mutter, blinking back tears, and walk past him, my legs heavy.
Rahman said nothing.
When she’d been confronted with prejudice before, Rahman challenged it. However, questions about her role – “As a medical student, where are my boundaries? Should I tell him that I'm Muslim? Should I tell my attending?” stayed her tongue.
Instead, she thought of Dr Jane, who worked in her university’s Alumni Affairs department.
Dr Jane “became the Muslims student’s strongest ally” and helped Rahman establish the college's Muslim Cultural Centre. Dr Jane's husband, Rahman notes, was killed during the September 11 attacks.
Despite this horrific loss, she never faltered in her support for the Muslim students. Time and again, she chose love and acceptance over hatred and revenge.
Rahman eventually returned to the room and completed the examination. Afterwards, she told the elderly man: