When Mumtaz Syed came to Canada in the 1970s from India, she never dreamed she would one day raise three sons.
“It’s hard work” she joked. “I remember some nurse telling me never ask a mother of three boys how she is doing because she is never doing so good, she is always tired.”
Dr. Zohair Syed was her first born, then three years later came Dr. Naveed Syed, and just a year and a half after, Dr. Sameer Syed joined the family.
“It was hard in the beginning but it got better as they got older.”
Mumtaz worked three part-time jobs in childcare while her husband spent years as an auto mechanic at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).
As the boys got older, the couple emphasized the importance of education.
“I always said that if they work they’re not going to study so we will work, you study” Mumtaz told Global News.
And it paid off.
Today, Zohair, Naveed and Sameer are all doctors, working at Trillium Health Partners (THP).
“When they came to Canada, they came with almost nothing and they built a life here and their whole goal, their whole journey, was for us to make something of ourselves,” said Sameer.
Older brother Zohair added, “She worked really hard to have us educated and then once we were all in university she went back and did a diploma.”
What inspired the trio to pursue medicine?
“This is like our traditional interview question when we apply to med school” joked Sameer.
“It wasn’t like we made a decision one day we’re all going to be doctors,” added Zohair.
They credit both their mother and father for inspiring them to take this path.
“My mom was in childcare. She did her ECE diploma when she was 56 i think … She always gave us the angle of trying to care for people and making sure people are happy,” Naveed said.
“Our dad was the methodical thinker so he was an auto mechanic he worked for TTC for 33 years. so I think the combination of the two is actually well suited for medicine … that caring nature and that analytical nature.”
At THP, the Syeds are paving the way for the future of hospital patient care.
Together, two of the Syeds spearheaded the “primary care hospitalist” model at THP and became Mississauga’s first primary care hospitalists.
“A hospitalist is a physician that is mainly focused or exclusively focused on inpatient hospital-based care. In Canada, and even in North American and the rest of the world, it is a relatively new definition of specialty physician,” explained Sameer.
Hospitalists spend most of their time caring for hospitalized patients, instead of splitting their time in an outpatient office setting, which allows for a unique continuity of care.
This model has now been expanded to all three Trillium’s sites thanks to the Syeds.
“We try to bring family medicine principles into hospital care … we generally work with patients who are past their initial acute presentation so the reason they came into hospital might be something like pneumonia but a lot of patients have any number of other illness that are chronic,” said Naveed.
“I always wanted to do something that I think would make a difference and help people,” Zohair said.
In the atrium of THP in Etobicoke, the three doctors sit with their parents and chat.
Mumtaz is beaming.
“I feel complete,” she said simply, when describing the feeling of being in he presence of her family.
And just in time for Mother’s Day, her three sons share their messages of love for their mom.
“Mom thanks always for everything you have done for us and for being there when we need you,” said Zohair.
“Happy Mother’s Day mom, thanks for always having our backs and always taking care of us and making the best food,” said Naveed.
And the baby of the family Sameer added, “Everything I am today is because of you.”
A woman who came to Canada with very little has so much to celebrate.