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Peter Saikali, MD, on wearing many hats and always seeking personal and professional growth

 

Peter Saikali, MD
— OCCUPATION —
Assistant Professor, Tufts University, Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Portsmouth, NH

Associate Hospitalist Site Medical Director, Portsmouth Regional Hospital (Portsmouth) and Parkland Medical Center (Derry), NH

Interim Hospitalist Site Medical Director, Alaska Regional Hospital, Anchorage, AK

Teaching Attending, Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s Internal Medicine and Family Medicine Residency Programs

— MEDICAL SCHOOL —
St. George's University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies

— INTERNAL MEDICINE RESIDENCY —
Norwalk Hospital/Yale University, Norwalk, CT

What is your current position?

At the moment, I wear several hats. I am an associate professor of Tufts University at Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire. In addition, I am the associate hospitalist site medical director at both Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Parkland Medical Center in New Hampshire, as well as the interim hospitalist site medical director at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. I am also a hospitalist at the sites mentioned above, providing patient care when not on administrative duty, as well as educating interns and residents while serving as a teaching attending at Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s Internal Medicine and Family Medicine residency programs.

Where did you attend medical school and postgrad training?

I attended medical school at St. George’s University. I was enrolled in a global health program in medical school, where I completed my first year at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom, my second year at the True Blue campus in Grenada, and my third/fourth years in the state of New York. I completed my residency in internal medicine at Norwalk Hospital/Yale University in Connecticut.

I also continue to seek growth in my career and have recently completed a certificate in physician leadership offered by the American Association for Physician Leadership and the American College of Physicians. In addition, I am in the process of completing my MBA at Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.

Why did you choose to become a physician?

Becoming a physician was a calling for me. Growing up, being an advocate for others and dedicating my life and time to improve others’ lives are what I had always strived for, and becoming a physician fit this profile perfectly. In doing so, I was able to not only become an advocate for my patients but also dedicate my life to helping others manage their medical conditions and improve their lives.

What field of internal medicine did you select and how did you accomplish it?

I chose to go into a hybrid form of general internal medicine, combining my leadership roles with my clinical and teaching duties. I had always wanted to be involved in the field of medicine from several aspects. I wanted to be an advocate to my patients, my fellow colleagues, and my interns and residents. Playing a role in all aspects of a hospital—including leadership, clinical, and educational—allows me to fulfill my goal in this hybrid form of internal medicine that I chose to lead.

This was made possible given the opportunities provided by my employers. I am a hospitalist and medical director with Envision Physician Services and serve as a hospitalist at several Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) sites, including Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Parkland Medical Center in Derry, New Hampshire; Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire; and Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.

How I got into what I am doing now took a lot of hard work and patience. I recently graduated residency in 2018 and started working as a hospitalist at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. I was noted to be a valuable asset to both HCA and Envision Physician Services and was allowed to cross-credential at their sister hospitals in New Hampshire. An opportunity became available, and I was offered to become the interim medical director at Parkland Medical Center, which I graciously agreed to do. One year later, a medical director opportunity became available at Portsmouth Regional Hospital; given the hard work and successes I achieved at Parkland, Portsmouth Hospital leadership were very supportive of me and guided me through a successful journey of leadership as the interim medical director there, too. I then eventually became the permanent associate medical director over both sites and have been developing both hospitals since then.

Finally, in November 2020, Envision acquired a new contract with HCA at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. Envision Physician Services and HCA are both great, as they genuinely value hard work and help mature the leaders in their physicians. They invested a lot in me, have supported my growth since day one, and thought that I would be the best fit to help them launch a brand-new hospitalist program at Alaska Regional Hospital.

Since then, I've been their "interim" medical director. Although I do live in New Hampshire, our leadership team and I make frequent trips up to Alaska while we continue to interview and recruit full-time candidates to help us build a new and strong family of hospitalists as I continue to perform the excellent roles I play in New Hampshire! I am forever grateful for the opportunities provided to me and will continue to seek academic, medical, and professional growth as my career progresses with both Envision Physician Services and HCA.

Please describe a typical day in your practice.

Every day is different, and the key is to be ready for each day, one day at a time. Nonetheless, routinely, the day starts with sign-out from the nocturnist for overnight admissions. I proceed shortly after to reviewing charts, meeting and greeting patients, and admitting and discharging others from the hospital as the day goes by. There will almost certainly be two to three leadership meetings that will take place throughout the day; therefore, exceptional time management is of utmost importance. I usually end my day by signing out to the nocturnist. If I happen to be on a teaching service, attending round and teaching sessions certainly takes place with the medical students, interns, and residents.

What are some of your special interests professionally?

This may sound a little different, but I absolutely enjoy interviewing candidates as the site medical director for full- or part-time jobs at the three different hospitals where I perform directorship duties. Even if we are not a match for the candidate or vice versa, each candidate has an absolutely amazing life story to share, and I learn something new in each conducted interview.

What are your interests and hobbies outside of medicine?

I do enjoy indoor rock climbing as well as swimming. Cooking is also a hobby of mine, although I have yet to come up with a unique recipe for something delicious.

What advice would you like to share with medical students, or what do you wish someone would have told you while you were in medical school?

You will definitely learn what your passion is as you progress through your career in medical school or even as you eventually go through residency. Listen to your seniors, teachers, and supervisors; they have many of the answers that you may be looking for. In addition, if you have a certain idea or goal in mind, research about it; see if others have done it; and keep pushing forward until you’ve achieved those goals.

Which living person do you most admire?

My father. My old man showed me what commitment to family really is and that with determination, anything I set my mind on can become a reality.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to learn how to play a guitar one day. One of the things I’d love to do one day is play the guitar to my patients at their bedside!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement is becoming a physician and eventually turning into a leader. It took time, patience, and dedication, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

What is your most treasured possession?

My FJ cruiser. I remember working so hard in residency to save for it and bought it in full, without a loan. I still drive it and will continue to drive it until it is time to move on!

Back to the April 2021 issue of ACP IMpact

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