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University of British Columbia | Alumni Profile - Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, BSc’98, MD’03

Dr. Zeineddin (she/her) earned her medical degree from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and received her Fellowship in the College of Family Physicians of Canada. She is a business owner and family physician located in West Vancouver, where she has a special interest in preventative health and lifestyle counselling. Dr. Zeineddin is the founder and chair of a preventative health platform called Zili CARE: bringing tools and insights on how to take take ownership of one’s mental and physical health.

She is a frequent CBC health contributor and speaker on resiliency, mental health, and gender equity. Dr. Zeineddin is an avid teacher and clinical instructor for the UBC Family Practice and Medical programs. She also sits on the board of directors at BC Family Doctors and UBC Medical Alumni Association, and is one of the Chief Negotiators for Doctors of BC.

What is your favorite memory from your time at UBC? My fondest memory at UBC is not just what I learned when I did my undergraduate degree in physiology or medical school, but the people I met going through those journeys. I still remember the conversations I had with some of my beloved professors about life and how to live with purpose. However, I mostly remember making lifelong friends and meeting the man I’m still married to today with our two children. I remember playing ice hockey, soccer, and basketball intramural in my first and second year of medicine with the craziest and most fun friends, one of which has become my business partner, others who are still are my friends to this day and now our children are friends too.

What has been your journey since graduating from UBC? Following my undergraduate degrees in physiology and medicine, I did a two-year family practice residency at St Paul’s Hospital, intending on doing addictions inner city medicine. Instead, my husband, also a UBC alumnus, ended up settling on the North Shore in Vancouver and building our practice the day we graduated. I became a community longitudinal family doctor where I did hospital calls, deliveries, palliative care, and geriatrics, and I was working over 70 hours/week.

After having my first child, I experienced anxiety with panic attacks. I had no help or guidance from my profession, except for my own family doctor who helped me through this difficult time. Fast forward 17 years later, with teenage daughters and a pandemic, I was yet again facing burnout, but this time I was not frozen or silent. I knew that something needed to change from within me, how I did things, and within our healthcare system and the medical culture, therefore I took time away from my practice to reflect. Through that process, I came to understand that I am worthy no matter what. I became motivated to get involved, take leadership positions, join boards I believed in and used my voice in the media. I didn’t want my patients to get temporary solutions and created a preventative health platform for the public to have access to evidence-driven tools and insights to take care of themselves physically and mentally, called Zili CARE.

What are the best aspects of your career? The best aspect of my career is the impact that I can have on my patients, which makes all that hard work worthwhile. The continuity of care, the ability to know one’s life story and know how every element can impact your health and the relationships you build over time is priceless. My patients are like family to me, which sometimes makes it so much harder to set boundaries to care for myself before I care for my community. What motivated you to join the UBC Medical Alumni Association (MAA) as a Board Director? I have always thought that going through medical training is like going war, like the veteran connection. There is an unspoken bond we all have and there is strength and healing compassion in those bonds. So I wanted to get involved in the UBC MAA to give back to medical students, residents, and alumni and help them feel connected and feel that they will always have a community.

What do you hope to accomplish during your term at the UBC MAA? My wish is for us to support one another, get out of our individualist mindsets, and act as a community. It would be an honour to see different generations of doctors and medical students of all walks of life get together because of the UBC MAA to learn and find space for one another to bring joy and a sense of community.

Where do you find inspiration? To find inspiration, it has to come within. For it to come from within, your mind needs to have a sense of calm. For me, I have to regularly find a sense of calm in nature with daily walking meditations and physical activities that puts my mind in focus, like downhill skiing or playing tennis. Another source of inspiration is the people I work with inside and outside of medicine, the people I call my friends and family, and most of all my beautiful patients.

What was one piece of advice that a mentor gave you? One of my mentors asked me what the meaning of life is. I honestly didn’t know what to answer. I think I said something like, “To find joy and happiness”. He looked at me and said, “Life is difficult and it will have its ebbs and flows. To me it’s about the relationships who will make this journey of life doable.”

What does a healthy society mean to you? A healthy society is a community of individuals connected to themselves and their surroundings to thrive mentally, physically, and emotionally. They respect one another, have no judgment, have compassion for themselves, others, and their surroundings, and value relationships, wisdom, and curiosity. See article here.

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