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Khalid Sheikh: Advancing Care for Fellow Patients With Chronic Illness

April 30, 2024

Now, as an internal medicine resident at Dell Medical School, Sheikh is uniquely poised for impact as he pursues a career in endocrinology, where he’ll support others navigating similar health struggles. 

Portrait of Khalid Sheikh sitting inside an auditorium

Khalid Sheikh, M.D.

Q&A With Sheikh:

How has your personal experience with chronic illness impacted your approach to your career?

Having a chronic illness adds another layer of calculus to the already complex demands of everyday life. Every facet of my life — from planning meals to budgeting — is impacted by my diabetes, but it has also influenced the trajectory of my career. I plan to complete an endocrinology fellowship after residency so I can continue to channel my personal experience and clinical knowledge into caring for patients with diabetes and related conditions.  

I feel a deeper connection with my patients because of my own experiences, and I often share my own struggles and successes with them — especially those with diabetes — so they know that they are not alone. 

How are you proactively advancing in this field prior to completing your residency?

Right now, I’m working with faculty mentors to promote better clinical understanding of Doege-Potter syndrome, a condition that involves a rare endocrine tumor that causes recurrent hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.  We wrote a case report on one patient with the syndrome who had hypoglycemia for nearly a year. I experience hypoglycemia occasionally myself, so I can envision how disruptive this would be to experience on a regular basis. The patient and his family showed me the stash of Dr. Pepper they keep on hand just in case he has low blood sugar — and in response, I whipped out my own stash of juice boxes from my backpack. We were able to share a laugh and collectively validated each other’s experiences with illness. 

Writing this case report gave me a chance to learn from the dedicated faculty at Dell Med. Avni Mody and Pratima Kumar guided me step-by-step through their clinical reasoning behind the patient’s workup and treatment. We published the case in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, and I am excited to present the case at the Endocrine Society’s annual ENDO conference in Boston this June. I hope to highlight both the investigative and collaborative skills of my team that made curing this patient’s condition possible. 

Is there a moment or memory that has influenced your passion for this work?

When I was in college, I shadowed a pediatric endocrinologist who also had Type 1 diabetes. I noticed he ended every new patient encounter with the same message: “I want you to know that you can still absolutely live a long, healthy, active life with diabetes.”  

I appreciated this framing of chronic disease as something that, in many cases, can be managed well enough so patients can get back to doing the things that bring them meaning in life. I try to share a similar message to my patients — you can have an illness and can still do the things that you love.

If readers remember one thing about you or your work, what do you hope that is?

I am here at Dell Med doing what I love because I had a health care team that supported me. I strive to be a support person for any patient who walks through these doors. For anyone connected to Dell Med, or health care in general, you could be the reason why someone walks out those hospital or clinic doors able to go forward and impact someone else’s life.

Graduate medical education, or GME, refers to the period of education in a particular specialty or subspecialty following completion of medical school. This continuation of training through residency and fellowship programs provides the clinical and educational experience needed for physicians to achieve autonomy, deliver high-quality patient care, and prepare for challenges in an evolving health care landscape.

Dell Med, in partnership with Ascension Seton, is home to 465 resident and fellow physicians and sponsors 47 residency and fellowship programs ranging from family medicine and neurology to pediatric emergency medicine and cardiovascular disease.