Henry Doctors’ Hospital’s youngest surgical technician heads to medical school

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Mohamed Abdelrahman (Courtesy of HCA Virginia)

Under the guidance of colleagues at Henrico Medical Hospital, the youngest person in the operating room is heading to medical school this summer.

Surgical technician Mohamed Abdelrahman, 21, is known as ‘The Kid’ in the operating room and has assisted surgeon Ralph Layman with major procedures, including kidney transplants, while taking undergraduate courses at VCU . He balanced being a full-time student, full-time technician, and aspiring physician with the help of his colleagues at HCA Virginia – from a flexible schedule to post-operative consultations and letters of recommendation.

“The only reason I was able to graduate in three years and be accepted into medical school was because of the director of the operating room,” Abdelrahman said. “There was a lot of flexibility in my schedule and I was able to change it from semester to semester.

During those late hours in the hospital, he started following Layman into his clinic and watched him talk with the patients. It was through these interactions that he decided what kind of doctor – and person – he aspires to be in the future.

“Mostly the field I want to go to and the type of person I want to be… it’s geared towards the layman and all the mentors I have,” Abdelrahman said. “I admire the mentality of his work ethic.”

Layman had an open door policy and was always happy to answer questions. He said he only knew one other surgical technician who became a doctor.

“He was a full-time student and worked full time, working late nights,” Layman said. “He was already spending hours showing that he would be successful in his career. I think he had the drive, the will and the intelligence without me. I’m proud that he was able to make himself accepted [to medical school] and that I had a small part of it.

Layman’s support, along with that of others in the operating room, exemplifies the mentoring environment at HCA Virginia, said Ryan Jensen, CEO of Henrico, Parham and Retreat Doctors Hospitals.

Abdelrahman is originally from Sudan and moved to America in eighth grade. He took a surgical technology program in high school and wanted to expand his knowledge and accumulate the clinical hours necessary for acceptance into medical school. The average number of clinical hours is around 200, but he has completed more than 5,000 at Henrico Doctors, Abdelrahman said.

“I focused on the clinical experience to see what’s going on and learn the language,” he said. “Dr. Layman is one of my biggest supporters. If I have any questions about health care or health care policy, I turn to him. He inspires me to pursue changes in the medical field.

Abdelrahman begins his classes this summer at VCU and plans to focus on orthopedics or general vascular surgery with a future focus on working in global health – while continuing to work at Henrico Doctors Hospital on a daily basis.

“Mohamed inspires our entire surgical team by providing exceptional care to patients in the operating room as a surgical technician,” said Dennis Szurkus Jr., Chief Medical Officer of Henrio Doctors. “He inspires us all to achieve our career aspirations. Mentoring and supporting our team members to advance their careers is an important way to take care of us as a family. “


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