Dr. Bukhtawar Azhar’s journey at IPAC (Infection Prevention and Control) Foundation began as a volunteer. She was enthusiastic about improving Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in the dental healthcare sector of Pakistan. IPAC Foundation provided her with a platform to do the same. Her work, leadership skills, and potential were recognized by the management and she was hired as a Program Manager to launch the Program of Safe Dentistry in 2020. Under this program, her team conducted several IPC workshops, capacity-building training, and an International Virtual Dental Conference and advocated safe dental practices across the board through various awareness campaigns.
Under the guidance and mentorship of Sameer Shafi, MD (Chairman, IPAC Foundation) Umar Farooq, MD, MS (Vice Chairman, IPAC Foundation) and Dr. Reem Shafi, (Member board of trustee, IPAC Foundation) she grew as a public health professional. The entire experience was transformational for her career and empowered her to become a conscientious leader. It motivated her to pursue public health matters with more enthusiasm after recognizing the potential she had to create a significant impact on a large scale.
Based on everything she had achieved and learned during her time at the IPAC Foundation, and more so everything that she now aspired to do, she decided to pursue a postgraduate degree in Public Health. Supported and recommended by Dr. Shafi, she worked tirelessly on her applications for some of the most highly esteemed Public Health Schools across the US. As a result, Dr. Azhar was offered scholarship-based admissions at Harvard University, John Hopkins University, and Columbia University. She is now pursuing her post-graduate in Public Health – Global Health at Harvard University.
To all the volunteers, work hard for the change you wish to see in the healthcare system and the community. We all hold a cause close to our hearts – one that gives our profession purpose. Make that purpose your leading force and utilize every little opportunity that comes your way to work towards fulfilling that purpose. It won’t be easy – it will require hard work, patience, and perseverance. However, as long as you don’t give up and put your heart and soul into it, there is absolutely nothing you won’t be able to achieve!
I am forever grateful to the IPAC Foundation and Dr. Shafi for giving me the vision to dream big and providing me with this platform that helped me tap into my full potential.