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“Be a leader so that your followers one day become leaders, no matter what the odds are” With Dr. Daria Hamrah

“I was asked by a friend and colleague of mine to start a foundation to help children with cleft lip and palate and facial deformities. Of…


“I was asked by a friend and colleague of mine to start a foundation to help children with cleft lip and palate and facial deformities. Of course we had no idea how to run a foundation or even where to start but all we knew is that we wanted to find a way to help children with facial deformities. Children without means and in part of the world where no one cares what happens to them. Everything started from there and four years later we have performed hundreds of surgeries and helped change the lives of hundreds of families and their children. Through our cause we were able to inspire hundreds of other people to help and support our foundation and mission. Not only did they believe in our cause but more importantly they believed in the good. They experienced the feeling of ultimate happiness which is giving without expecting anything in return! They understood what it means to “receive” when you “give”. How is that for an inspiration for someone that just graduated high school? Moreover, they were inspired by selflessness, determination and passion. Some of the young students that traveled with us were so inspired that two of them decided to go to medical school in order to be able to eventually do the same once they become doctors. One of them is a young student who just got accepted to John’s Hopkins University and has a great career ahead of herself. Having traveled with us and having been part of a cause greater than ourselves I am sure that she is going to be able to help hundreds of other people as well as inspire other young students along her path. It takes one person to change the life of many others! Believe in yourself and be a leader so that your followers one day become leaders! No matter what the odds  are.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Daria Hamrah. Dr. Daria Hamrah is Board Certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and by the National Dental Board of Anesthesiology and Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path as a doctor?

Ever since I can remember as a kid I always loved helping others. I know it sounds cliche but thinking back that’s what I remember. When someone fell and got hurt I was the first to go get a band aid and put it on the wound. Even if two people were in a quarrel I found joy in trying to help resolve their problem. I am not sure why but looking at what brings me joy today, it’s the very same reason that motivates me to treat my patients every day, compassion! I always thought I became a doctor because my father was a doctor, but when I was asked by a student a few years ago the same question (why did you become a doctor) I couldn’t answer the question immediately and had to dig deep. When I went all the way back to my childhood, it became very clear to me! The joy of helping others to feel better physically and mentally!

How have your personal challenges informed your career path?

Like everybody else I also had a lot of challenges that helped form my career path and I am thankful for them. Without these challenges I probably wouldn’t have found the motivation to achieve what I have achieved today.

Ultimately it was determination and passion for becoming a doctor that was the internal driving force to overcome any challenge throughout my career as well as personal life. I remember when I was first planning on moving to the US from Germany for my residency training I was told by everyone (including my own professors and advisors) that it will be too difficult to land a spot in a residency training program as a foreign graduate and definitely not possible for my first option of facial reconstructive and cosmetic surgery (by the way-my only choice!) I didn’t have a plan B which was the greatest thing that could have happened to me! Did I get a lot of rejection letters from a lot of universities, absolutely! But all I needed is one acceptance letter, it was Harvard! I still remember the faces of my professors in Germany when they asked me what I will be doing after my graduation.

It all began when I sat in a lecture as an undergraduate student and the first slide on the big screen was a picture of a newborn baby boy with a cleft lip. I was both horrified and disturbed at the same time since I had never seen anything like that before. Before I could gather my emotions, the second slide popped up; It showed the same baby boy 2 weeks after the lip was repaired and he looked perfectly normal! Like a miracle! I was so amazed and inspired that it was right then and there that I decided I wanted to be able to do the same! It was that inspiration that fueled my drive and allowed me to overcome any obstacle along my path-no matter the difficulty. All starting with a decision driven by a single moment of inspiration.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Doctor”

If I could give young students any advice it would be:

1. Only to become a doctor (or any other profession for that matter) if you are passionate about helping others!

2. When you chose your profession you have to imagine yourself doing it for the rest of your life! The sacrifices are many however the reward is priceless!

3. Don’t chase the “idea” of something rather than “seeing yourself” in your profession every single day

4. Don’t try to make others proud, but instead make yourself proud.

5. You are young and have a lot of time! Don’t try to run through life to try to get rich quick. When you are on a path that YOU chose you will succeed. It’s not about the money, it’s about your happiness. Money is just the result of it all and will eventually become a tool that you can help others with.

I consider being a doctor one of the greatest privileges and gifts anyone can ask for! You can make a direct impact in someone’s life both physically and mentally. You cannot put a price tag on that.


Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?

I’m not sure how to answer this question as it is difficult to predict people’s reaction to what they see on TV or social media.

I guess it depends on the content and the viewer. It could be a double edge sword. On one hand you like your patients to get to know you your work and what you’re passionate about and on the other hand what you show and reveal might get misinterpreted and expose you to malicious attacks. But I think ultimately if you’re able to show your compassion and care and love for what you do the net result can only be positive. Can we make everybody happy? No. Are there people that are angry at life and are just out there to let it out on you? I guess that would make you an easy target in the latter case. Ultimately people see what they want to see and their beliefs are guided by their opinion of you. You can always see the good or the bad which does not have anything to do with the actual fact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?

My favorite life quote is: “Do what you love and you shall succeed.” (my mother)

It helped keep me focused and continue on my path regardless of obstacles and circumstances. All I had to do was choose what I felt brought me happiness. It helped me during school as well as in my professional career. It helped me not to worry about the obstacles ahead and instead of focusing on them, focus on my goal and take one step after another knowing that eventually I will get there. I remember the first time one of my patients asked me: “Doc, how long did it take you to become a surgeon?” I couldn’t tell and it occurred to me that I had actually never counted the years. So when I started counting in order to answer his question I counted 15 years after high school! Yes, 15 years! That was the moment when I realized that I had actually achieved my goal without even thinking about the number of years it took me to achieve it. Had I started counting the years when I started my education it would have been like standing in front of a 15 foot tall wall trying to jump over it to the other side. Impossible! So, my advice to all young students trying to figure out their professional path is: Don’t focus on how long it takes to do something you love and to just do it! Because no matter how long it takes, you will be rewarded for it for the rest of your life.


You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I love this question especially since I have experienced a similar journey personally.

To me, the only way to inspire others is to be genuine and to be humble. I do believe in the good in people and unfortunately it has become very difficult in our society to believe in that. In my opinion, this is partly due to the influence that our media has on our society. All you have to do is turn on the news and you will hear nothing but bad news! Why, because bad news “sells” better! I remember when a friend of mine who was a headline news anchor for an internationally renowned news station, wanted to report about a charity surgery that I had performed about 5 years ago. However, the producer of the news channel rejected with the explanation that they currently don’t have a spot for the story and have to air what “sells”, which of course was bad news.

I believe that as a person with great influence, if you do good and especially make decisions based on your “heart,” only then you can inspire others. I feel that people are hungry for it and it’s so easy for the “good” to spread like wildfire. The problem is, we never hear of these stories and there are many of them out there.

One example is when I was asked by a friend and colleague of mine to start a foundation to help children with cleft lip and palate and facial deformities. Of course we had no idea how to run a foundation or even where to start but all we knew is that we wanted to find a way to help children with facial deformities. Children without means and in part of the world where no one cares what happens to them. Everything started from there and four years later we have performed hundreds of surgeries and helped change the lives of hundreds of families and their children. Through our cause we were able to inspire hundreds of other people to help and support our foundation and mission. Not only did they believe in our cause but more importantly they believed in the good. They experienced the feeling of ultimate happiness which is giving without expecting anything in return! They understood what it means to “receive” when you “give”. How is that for an inspiration for someone that just graduated high school? Moreover, they were inspired by selflessness, determination and passion. Some of the young students that traveled with us were so inspired that two of them decided to go to medical school in order to be able to eventually do the same once they become doctors. One of them is a young student who just got accepted to John’s Hopkins University and has a great career ahead of herself.

Having traveled with us and having been part of a cause greater than ourselves I am sure that she is going to be able to help hundreds of other people as well as inspire other young students along her path. It takes one person to change the life of many others! Believe in yourself and be a leader so that your followers one day become leaders! No matter what the odds are.

Please list all social media channels for our readers to see.

Instagram: novasurgicare

Facebook: @NovaSurgicare

Twitter: Novasurgicare

Originally published at medium.com

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