Numan Rashid, MD, MPH, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained pulmonary and critical care physician and member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine. Dr. Rashid is among those providers who were instrumental in delivering critical care for COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic locally.
A native of Queens, New York, Dr. Rashid graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey, before receiving his medical degree from St. George's University – School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies. His residency took place at Albany Medical College, where he also earned a fellowship. Currently, Dr. Rashid lives in Clifton Park, New York, with his wife and two boys, ages 10 and 8.
Q. Why did you choose a career in medicine, and why pulmonology?
A. My parents came to the United States from Pakistan in 1976. My father was a pharmacist, and the only one in the family with a college education at that point. He made me stay in school and stick with it despite my protests. It is true that you do not know how much your parents love you until you are a parent yourself. I ended up doing well in medical school and falling in love with the academics.
During my residency and fellowship, I had the opportunity to work with amazing mentors. One was pulmonologist Dr. Hung Dinh Nguyen, who is Medical Director of Critical Care at Saratoga Hospital, Director of Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine, and Director of our Lung Cancer Screening Program. He is hardworking, humble, and patient-centered; I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
When I was in medical school, I chose a specialty where I could help the most people using the most fundamental tools. I found the field of Pulmonary Critical Care serves a wide spectrum of patients, from ambulatory/outpatient settings to a hospital ward to an ICU, where patients are at their most vulnerable. Now that this pandemic has come along, I am thankful I made the right choice. I am where I was meant to be.
Q. What is the biggest change you would like to see in terms of treatments in pulmonary medicine?
A. I’d like to see better treatment options for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. There is an intolerable lack of national discussion and research data on COPD compared to other diseases, even though it is one of the leading causes of death in this nation. I would like to see the same national conversation on COPD as there is on other diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
Q. What has it been like, serving as a pulmonologist during the pandemic?
A. One thing that is unique about COVID-19 is that everyone is talking about it across the entire world. There is a national focus of attention on the illness, unlike other chronic pulmonary diseases.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, we restricted visitors from the ICU for the safety of the community. Updates to family members were made over the phone. Our nurses would call them every few hours with updates, and I would call at the end of the day to summarize how their loved ones, some of whom were on mechanical ventilation, did that particular day. We would have conversations with family members from Queens, Brooklyn, Clifton Park, and Saratoga Springs. Some of these family members we would never meet, though they were putting all their trust in us. It was a surreal situation and humbling to our team.
The nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and dieticians all worked so hard, and I am so proud of them. They were the reason that many of our patients were reunited with their families. We would often join them on the front steps of our hospital to share in the amazing experience of these reunions.
The professionals that I most want to recognize are the respiratory therapists and nurses. They were the first people in the room, with a highly contagious patient, and the last to leave. They demonstrated a bravery that I had to emulate. It is due to them that we were successful in sending patients home.
Q. What helpful words of advice or tips would you most like to share with pulmonary patients?
A. It is never too late to start taking care of yourself. I see patients who feel it is too late for them, that there is no point for treatment because they feel they are too far gone. It is important for people to know that it is never too late. Even if you have been smoking forever, or have lung cancer, or have severe COPD, we can work together to improve your quality of life. If a patient quits smoking at any stage of their illness, it will reduce the progression of all of their illnesses. We can work together on tobacco cessation as well as the patient’s other conditions. Even if you tried and failed to quit before, it’s never too late to try again. Please come see us and we can work together, without judgement.
Q. What might patients be surprised to learn about you?
A. People might be surprised to learn that I ride a motorcycle every day, unless there’s ice on the ground. I find it therapeutic. It makes you focus on one thing, just riding, so for a while you forget about everything. It’s exhilarating.
Once you have a referral from your primary care physician, you can make an appointment with Dr. Numan Rashid or one of our other pulmonologists through Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Pulmonology & Sleep Medicine, which has offices in Saratoga Springs, Malta, and is now open in Queensbury. To learn more, including hours and locations, please visit our pulmonology and sleep medicine page.