EVMS Magazine  |  14.1  |  Our Global DNA Feature

EVMS Magazine  |  14.1  |  Our Global DNA Feature

I found myself connected to all of these new people.

Rafif Moussa, MD (Reproductive Clinical Science ’14, Reproductive Clinical Science Fellowship, ’16)

Director, Reproductive and Endocrinology, Community Hospital of San Bernardino, California

Damascus, Syria

When Rafif Moussa, MD, arrived in the United States in February 2012, a slammed door could make her jump.

For months, Dr. Moussa, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Al-Baath Medical School and the Medical Director of Raed Fertility Center Homs, Syria, had been a practicing physician in a war zone. Against the backdrop of her country’s civil war, she cared for patients and students and ran a private reproductive fertility center.

By early 2012, however, the devastation of losing friends and loved ones and constant threats of violence became too much. She moved to California, where four of her five siblings lived. There, she found comfort and respite, but she remained at loose ends — traumatized by the war, unmoored professionally and not sure what to do next.

“I had a successful career in Syria, but then I came to the United States and my English wasn’t very good, I didn’t understand the medical system here,” she says. “I didn’t fit in.”

Discovering EVMS’ Reproductive Clinical Science master’s program was a “godsend,” she says. It offered her a chance to reset professionally and get her medical career back on track.

“Coming to the program was so helpful,” she says. “I found myself connected to all of these new people with different backgrounds, but all of us working in similar fields and interested in the same ideas.”

The program also introduced Dr. Moussa to American standards of care and regulations that might not be implemented in Syria — the kind of resources and support she needed most to move forward.

Today, she is back to doing what she loves most — laparoscopic surgery and helping devastated people find hope and create their families.

“EVMS helped me complete my journey,” says Dr. Moussa, holding a favorite coffee cup that reads, I help to get babies. What’s your superpower? “I gained the confidence to restart my life.”

Read more magazine stories from issue 14.1 or read stories from past issues.