Rima Abbas, M.D., touched thousands of people with her passion for medicine and her community, and her compassion for her patients as a family medicine physician.
Now, thanks to the Islamic Medical Student Association at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, that
legacy will continue and she will inspire new generations of physicians-in-training as they learn about her too-short life.
Dr. Abbas, a 2006 graduate of the School of Medicine, and her family – husband, Issam Abbas, 42, and their children, Ali, 14; Isabelle, 13; and Giselle, 7 – died Jan. 6 in an automotive accident in Kentucky while on a vacation.
To commemorate Dr. Abbas, the IMSA invited her remaining family to the School of Medicine for lunch and dedication of a plaque honoring the physician. The plaque, which in part reads, “May her memory inspire us to heal with humility and kindness,” will be mounted near the meditation room on the second floor of the Mazurek Medical Education Commons.
“It’s still very hard to talk about,” said Dr. Abbas’s sister, Rana Abbas Taylor. “Wayne State University was a big part of her life. There is where she wanted to be, where she wanted to study medicine, so now (with the plaque) she will be here forever.”
Rana Abbas Taylor attended the April 19 commemoration with Dr. Abbas’s mother, Fatima Chirri Abbas.
Nawal Peracha, second-year medical student and president of IMSA, said many students knew of the influence Dr. Abbas had made in her community and in medicine without ever having met her. “She had such a big impact on her community,” said Peracha, 26, of Monroe, Mich.
The idea for the permanent plaque came from second-year medical student Nawar Aljundi, 23, of the metropolitan Detroit area.
“I wanted to honor her somehow,” Aljundi said. “She went to WSU, and it’s fitting that we honor her legacy. I want students to know about her and what kind of doctor she was.”
Margit Chadwell, M.D., associate dean of Student Affairs and Career Development, was Dr. Abbas’s program director at Oakwood Hospital during her residency. Dr. Chadwell read from Dr. Abbas’s’ dean’s letter, which cited her eagerness and her outstanding communications skills with patients.
“We’re not going to forget her,” Dr. Chadwell said. “She has a place here at the medical school forever.”
Suzan Beydoun, M.D., a classmate and colleague of Dr. Abbas, also spoke during the lunch. She noted that Dr. Abbas was a “graceful and grateful” person, who cared deeply about others and was dedicated to her family.
“These attributes made her an extraordinary physician. The kindness her parents instilled in her made her the physician she was,” Dr. Beydoun said.