Dr. Khadija Chaudrey

When Dr. Khadija Chaudrey moved to Brooklyn from Lahore, Pakistan, she had already completed medical school, landed a residency, and secured a visa to move halfway around the world. However, as a young immigrant physician, there were challenges ahead that her medical training had not prepared her for.

“When I first started my residency, I felt well-prepared with my medical knowledge base, but there was a difference in cultural norms coming from Pakistan,” recalls Dr. Chaudrey. “The language is very different, and the patients come from very diverse backgrounds. It was a challenging transition. Fortunately, I found lots of teachers and mentors to guide me.”

Today, Dr. Chaudrey is a gastroenterologist (at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center) and a clinical assistant professor at Tufts University, where she strives to provide the same type of guidance for young physicians in training. She previously completed fellowships at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Oklahoma. “My career has been so shaped by driven, strong female leaders who were open and honest with providing personal advice. Without them, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”

Dr. Chaudrey hopes she can help other physicians by sharing the lessons she has learned. Several years into her career, Chaudrey was driving with her daughter when she was rear-ended by a distracted driver. Fortunately, Dr. Chaudrey recovered without any long-term injuries, however, the experience was a wake-up call. “The accident made me think, ‘What if I was disabled or passed away? Is my family taken care of?’ That’s when I took a closer look at my life insurance and disability insurance and realized that the fine print was severely disturbing. For example, my personal disability policy had restrictions that said I had to be disabled and not working in any occupation in order to be considered totally disabled. Just as concerning as my personal insurance having limitations, my employer-sponsored insurance excluded coverage for workers’ comp disabilities entirely. Meaning that if you got injured at work, your employer can and will likely fire you without any disability insurance coverage”

As a result, Dr. Chaudrey encourages all young doctors to take initiative in protecting their financial futures. “A lot of my peers tell me that they heard maybe one lecture about disability insurance in their whole education. It needs to be part of our training. When I talk to my trainees, I try to emphasize how vital it is to protect your income and protect your family.”

For Dr. Chaudrey, balancing family life and a medical career is a skill that came with time, practice, and research. “I learned that you have to prioritize your personal and professional goals. Learn to say no, ask for help, and use all of your resources to meet your goals.”

These days, Dr. Chaudrey spends her free-time decompressing, playing boarding games, and bicycling with her husband and daughter. Working in academia, she is following in her mother’s footsteps by making a lasting impact as an educator.

“My mother was an elementary school teacher, and I would hear from her students years later about how thankful they were for her influence. I absorbed that, and I love working with people who are developing their own identities and careers as practitioners. If I can help other doctors find a positive direction for their own lives and their patients, that is a driving force for my role in medicine.”

Off the clock book

“Early in my career, I started reading books about work-life balance, because I thought, ‘I can’t be the only one facing with this problem. Someone must have figured this out.’ One of the books that really helped me was Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam. The take-home message is that you need to prioritize your personal and professional goals.”

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