University News

Caring For Children is Her Life’s Work - Hoda Bostani '02

By Barbara E. Stoll '93, M.A. '94

A true love for children is the reason that Hoda Bastani ’02 decided to become a pediatrician when she was still in medical school.

“As I got more clinical experience, I decided that pediatrics was right for me,” she says. “There are so many things that I love about it. I love general pediatrics because I like having a long-lasting relationship with families and watching children develop from birth to graduation.”

As a pediatrician, she is the primary caregiver to her young patients and as such is able to play an important role in their lives.

“I’m the first person to make a diagnosis,” she reports. “Or to inform the family of ways to prevent problems. My work with children is extremely rewarding and satisfying. I get to watch children develop over the years and get to experience their achievements, and be so proud of them.”

Bastani says that even a bad day, when a child vomits on her or she has to deal with angry parents, can turn around in an instant when one of her young patients “gives me a hug or a big smile. It just makes my day.”

She has worked at InovaCares Clinic for Children at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, with a mostly indigent population who are on Medicaid or without medical insurance, for the past year and a half.

“Most of the families are immigrants and do not speak English,” she explains. “That language barrier can present problems to overcome, as can social barriers if parents grew up in different countries with different cultural views on illness. Sometimes I prescribe a treatment, but if the family can’t afford it the child doesn’t benefit.”

Yet, she prefers to work in the clinic rather than in private practice where treating patients could be easier.

“Every type of practice is demanding,” Bastani says. “In my current job, I make a difference. I feel good that I did something to help. I feel that I’m filling a void, because if I don’t do this, who will? I’m humbled by my patients and all they go through and I want to do all I can to help.”

This dedicated young doctor is just twenty-six years old, and remains William Paterson’s youngest graduate, earning a degree in biology in 2002 at age sixteen. She was an honors student with a 4.0 grade point average who skipped high school, and earned an associate’s degree from the County College of Morris before transferring to William Paterson. While on campus the Iranian-born Bastani founded the Muslim Student Association and served as its president for the two years it took to finish her degree.

After commencement, she concluded a year of research at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey before enrolling at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical School, becoming the school’s youngest graduate in 2007. She also completed a three-year residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Away from the clinic, she spent some time in Rwanda and Malawi on medical missions, but also managed to have some fun like any young woman in her twenties. She went bungee jumping over the Nile River, and has traveled to the Far East. Closer to home, she rides the bike trails in her town, enjoys rock climbing, and likes going on road trips in her car.

The future includes more of the same. “I’m happy with my job, it’s interesting work,” she says. “I may pursue a master’s degree in public health, and I’m studying Spanish so I can speak directly to my patients. I just want to keep on trying new things.” WP