A Passion for Learning
Dr. Alnabelsi’s penchant for education was evident early on: he was valedictorian of his high school graduating class in Syria. Graduates also take a major exam to assess their aptitude for further studies; his high score qualified him to pursue the two highest academic fields — medicine or engineering — at Damascus University, the oldest and most prestigious university in the country. “I love math and mental exercises, but felt that dealing with patients would be far more personally rewarding than engineering,” he says of his choice to study medicine.
Dr. Alnabelsi came to the United States following his medical education at Damascus University and undertook residency, training and pathology at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston. He went on to do residency training in internal medicine (in which he is Board Certified) at Griffin Hospital-Yale-New Haven Hospital, and then did fellowship training in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
“Being a pathologist helped me to be a more thorough physician,” he says. “Today, I can look at a patient and actually visualize the pathology of their disease at the cellular level.”
Why endocrinology? “Endocrinology appealed to me because there is so much mental work involved,” he says. “It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, correlating different hormone values with the patient’s symptoms…reviewing each lab value and coming up with a diagnosis and treatment plan. It’s so rewarding to correct patients’ metabolic diseases so they will feel healthy and can get back to their regular activities.”
While he was at Cornell, Dr. Alnabelsi co-authored (with the chief of endocrinology) a chapter in the medical textbook “Corticosteroids & the Endocrine System.” One of his Cornell teachers also was a physician who had practiced at Eisenhower Medical Center. “So when a recruiter invited me here, I was interested,” Dr. Alnabelsi relates. “Plus, it was winter in New York when I visited Eisenhower, which also made it very appealing!” Dr.Alnabelsi joined Eisenhower’s medical staff in 1998.Today, he is the Chief of the Section of Endocrinology and heads a busy solo practice. Learning about his patients is an integral part of his effectiveness as a physician, Dr.Alnabelsi believes. “I’m here to answer their questions and address their concerns,” he says. “My patients feel free to call me any time, and I encourage them to do so.”
His accessibility and responsiveness to patients is largely responsible for what some would consider a grueling work schedule. “I pretty much work non-stop, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily,” Dr. Alnabelsi admits, and he even goes so far as seeing patients on weekends.
And when he’s not working? “I work out at the gym three times a week, and I love international travel,” he says, and aims for at least one trip a year. He also attends international medical conferences when possible. Some of the destinations he’s visited included Paris, Luxembourg, Copenhagen, Brussels, the Greek islands of Santorini (“Heaven!”), Crete and Mykonos, several Caribbean islands, and Ponte de Leste in Uruguay (“What a beautiful area!”). “I enjoy learning about other cultures, meeting new people, and having new experiences,” he says.