Profile: Dr. Kavian Shahi

A Father's Perspective on Balancing Career and Parenthood

For many of us, the drive to school can be a rushed, stressful start to the day. But for Dr. Kavian Shahi, those 20 minutes are precious. "Regardless of what is going on at work, I try very hard to make sure I can drive my kids to school," Dr. Shahi explains. "That drive gives us 20 minutes of alone time - time to talk to them, ask about homework, talk about anything - to have uninterrupted time. Driving them to school is a priority for me."

Carving out that daily chunk of time is no small feat for Dr. Shahi. As a neurosurgeon, and Medical Director of Neurosurgery at Dignity Health Neurological Institute, his schedule is hectic, to say the least. Nonetheless, he has managed to be present and involved in his children's lives since day one. "When my son was born, I was finishing up my residency in Salt Lake City," he remembers. "I would get up with the baby during the night and give my wife a rest - as a resident, I was so used to being up all night that it was easy for me!"

Dr. Shahi's daughter was born after the family moved to Sacramento and he began private practice. He says that despite the demands of his establishing his career, he always kept his children - now 12 and 8 years old - his priority. He says one concrete way he tries to be involved with his kids every day is by helping with homework. "It gives me a chance to see what they are learning in school, to show my support, to help them build confidence, and to solve problems together. That's important."

For the Shahi family, getting outside and being active together is also an important opportunity for connection. They enjoy going for walks and bike rides together. Both of his children play tennis, too, and while Dr. Shahi enjoys hitting the court with his kids, he says it's not as easy as it used to be. "My 12 year old son can beat me now!" he says with a laugh.

Dr. Shahi says that while there are challenges in balancing his roles as dad and doctor, he also sees similarities between the two. "My patients are kind of like my children? When patients are sick it is natural for them to regress a little bit and need guidance and support. My patients are counting on me to look out for their best interests, just like my children are."

Over the years Dr. Shahi has missed out on a few birthday parties and there are still nights he may not make it home before bedtime, but he says his family is understanding. "My kids understand when I get called in - they know someone needs my help. And my wife is very supportive - I couldn't do it without her support."

For new parents facing the challenges of balancing busy careers and young children, Dr. Shahi's one piece of advice is to make nurturing your children your priority. "I believe it is important to invest in your kids while they are young. It is the best investment you can make because it is during these early years that their personalities are developing. If you wait until they are older, it may be too late."

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