As a critical care physician, Mehrnaz Hadian uses a multidisciplinary approach to medicine. This has fueled her desire to expand her professional and intellectual palate with a legal education. Now in her second year at Southwestern, she will also be among the first students to participate in the law school's new Certificate Program in Bioscience Industry Law and Practice, presented in collaboration with Keck Graduate Institute (KGI).
Born and raised in northern Iran, Hadian graduated first in her class at Shahid Beheshti School of Medicine in Tehran. Her desire to expand her education and fulfill her dreams and professional goals brought her to the United States. After obtaining her ECFMG certification to practice medicine in America, Hadian's initial U.S. appointment was to work as a visiting researcher with the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston from 2000 to 2001. She went on to a three-year internal medicine residency at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, followed by a two-year, multidisciplinary critical care fellowship program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) called Pitt CCM.
The fellowship turned out to be a very good fit. "In that program, you used all of your logic and learning how to think and act very quickly in crisis situations," she said. "There was no outpatient clinical work. We were immediately immersed in the Intensive Care Unit and received the best critical care training in a multi-disciplinary approach."
During that time, Hadian was selected as of one the highly competitive NIH funded National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellows. After finishing the program in Pittsburgh, she decided to move to California. In 2007, she began working at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in a faculty position (supervising medical residents) and held an academic appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine with David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Hadian is board certified in internal medicine and critical care medicine, and works exclusively in the ICU as an intensivist. She is also board certified in neurocritical care, as well as hospice and palliative care medicine. She remains frustrated by the business aspects of medicine. "I do not believe in for-profit healthcare system," she said. "I don't know if the answer to that is 'socialized medicine,' which many seem to be afraid of. But I do know that there should be universal access to high quality affordable health care regardless of a person's socioeconomic status."
She also believes that insurance companies should never be allowed to get in the way of care for a patient. That was one of the determining factors for her to choose her specialty as a critical care physician, "because the ICU care for most part is protected from interference by patients' insurance status."
In 2011, she established Inspire CCM, a non-profit charitable advocacy organization to raise public awareness about the practice of critical care medicine. She was recently named a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine, an honorary title awarded based on her commitment to the ideals and practice of multidisciplinary critical care.
Hadian's desire to implement change within the medical profession and universal delivery of the ICU standard of care fueled her long-held interest in law school. Since enrolling at Southwestern, Hadian works approximately 30 hours a week to accommodate her class schedule. So far the classes she has enjoyed the most are Torts with Professor Calnan and LAWS with Vice Dean Anahid Gharakhanian, who Hadian calls "a great mentor." She also found Criminal Law with Professor Strader and Contracts with Professor Krone "very interesting and applicable to one's day-to-day life experiences." She is president of the campus' re-established Law and Medicine Society and a member of the Women Law Association Board of Directors. She also has written for Southwestern's newsmagazine, the Law Commentator ("Patients' Autonomy v. Physicians' Responsibility: What’s the Verdict?").
Despite her busy schedule, Hadian continues her passion for medical education by teaching Problem-Based Learning and ICU Simulation courses to medical students at UCLA. She also remains active in volunteering her time for public interest programs, such as the OneJustice Justice Bus trip to San Louis Obispo sponsored by Southwestern's Public Service Program last October and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics CARE event in New Orleans this July, to deliver legal and medical services to the underserved communities.
Hadian was intrigued by the Southwestern-KGI Certificate Program because, "As a physician and a law student, I am interested in learning how legal and entrepreneurial aspects of the healthcare system influence clinical practices. I believe the KGI program will help me better understand how healthcare policies and regulations affect bioscience innovations, and how to apply that knowledge to influence many aspects of the healthcare system such as delivery of high quality care and healthcare cost."
Hadian said she would eventually like to work nationally and internationally in advocacy and policy surrounding critical care medicine. As a Wildman-Schumacher Scholarship recipient, Hadian is proud to continue the law school's traditions. "For one thing, Southwestern's history of giving equal opportunity to women and minorities was important to me - especially as a woman and an immigrant," she said. "Being in Los Angeles and in the beautiful Bullocks Wilshire Building and giving me the flexible program - not every other program would offer that. I think Southwestern gives me the best of all worlds."