It is the dream of most desi parents that their children accomplish great things and becoming a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer ranks high on the list of preferred professions.

The process of becoming a physician is long and challenging, but Zain Burhani, a third-year internal medicine resident, says being a doctor is “the most rewarding job in the world”. He notes, however, that “You can be successful no matter what you do, if you apply yourself to it.” 

Born in Bangalore, India, Burhani completed his early schooling in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, when his parents moved there.

The family moved to Canada in June 2002 and settled in Toronto, where he enrolled in grade 8. “I felt an instant pressure to fit in,” he recalls. “All the other students not only dressed and spoke differently than me but they also had all known each other since kindergarten. I made friends and found myself changing and adapting quite a bit in a short period of time. There was always peer-pressure to do things that I knew were wrong or reckless and ultimately I would rely on my upbringing, values and lessons taught to me by my parents. It seems to have worked for me.

“I was fascinated with the human body and its physiology since I was a young boy – there wasn’t one specific moment or experience that made me decide that I wanted to be a doctor. Being a doctor was the best way to combine my passion for biology with my passion for helping others.

“When I started the lengthy process of medical school I had no idea what it took to be a doctor. It’s not something you can read in a book or learn from a TV show. I think that you only realize what it takes to be a doctor once you’re actually one. It’s an emotionally and physically challenging profession that tests you every step of the way. You need to be 100 per cent committed to succeed. I am currently in my third year of internal medicine residency at University of Western Ontario in London. And it is hands down the most rewarding job in the world. Every day I go home happy and satisfied because I know I made a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small or big. Also the people you work with become your family because they truly understand or relate well to the life of a doctor.

“I would like to pursue a career in general internal medicine which encompasses inpatient, ICU and outpatient care.”

Burhani didn’t face any real challenges as a person of South Asian descent, and is of the opinion that the medical profession is relatively devoid of racial discrimination with many medical students, residents and attending physicians of different ethnicities.

“For any young desi who wants to be a doctor, you need to make sure that it is truly what you are passionate about. You have to devote a lot of time and energy to this. Getting into medical school in Canada is incredibly competitive and you have to start early. You have to work extremely hard at school and outside of school, volunteering at hospitals, shadowing doctors at the hospital/clinics or doing medical research. There’s also the financial aspect. 

“But the commonly desired professions of medicine, engineering or law aren’t the only options. You have to ultimately do what makes you happiest and what you are passionate about. You can be successful no matter what you do if you apply yourself to it. I chose to become a doctor and it’s a choice I make every day. I am truly happy and blessed to be where I am in life.”

If you’d like to share the story of your arrival in Canada, please write to or call 416-695-4357.

Desi News