Ayaaz Habibullah, MD

Family Medicine, Boone Health Primary Care – Nifong

I’m very local. I attended Rock Bridge High School and Mizzou for undergrad, and I plan to stay in Columbia for my entire career! I love what I do, where I work, and who I work for. When I was looking for a job out of residency, my #1 factor was to lay roots and build something that will last. Three years into being with Boone Health, I feel like I’ve made the right decision.

Why did you get into the health care field?

To help people! The chance to be a beacon for people who are struggling and helping them make the right healthcare choices drew me to medicine. That and just about everybody in my family has a medical background. Dinner table conversations about medicine definitely sparked my interest at a young age.

What interested you in your particular specialty?

I think of primary care providers as jacks of all trades. I was interested in helping many different people in many different ways and building long-term relationships with my patients and their families. I enjoy getting to know my patients, understanding their motivations and goals, and letting them get to know me. My goal is to empower my patients to make an informed decision. My patients often hear me say, “I make suggestions, you make decisions!”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

When a new patient returns as an established patient. When a patient comes back for a second, third or fourth visit, it’s a sign they feel comfortable with me and trust me. Knowing that a patient values my opinion when making critical or life-altering decisions is something I never take for granted.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Not having enough hours in the day to see more patients. I’m always interested in building relationships with new and established patients and think about how to make myself more available to people who need care.

What do you see changing in health care in the next 5 to 10 years?

Telehealth has been taking off over the last few years, which I think is great. For some patients and conditions, personalized healthcare through telehealth can be more cost-effective and efficient. Streamlining these encounters is something I think will continue to grow. I think we’ll also see more direct patient and provider communication. Providers being accessible after hours and patients being well-versed in their own healthcare through technology like wearable medical devices can lead to stimulating conversations and decisions made jointly between patients and providers.

What advice would you give someone looking to become a doctor?

Get a taste of everything medicine has to offer. Knowing you want to be a doctor is great but there are many levels on any path. Most importantly, remember why you wanted to be a physician in the first place. Putting yourself in your patient’s shoes is necessary and leads to better care.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I love the outdoors. Fishing and scuba diving are my favorites. Water can be peaceful, but Mother Nature can also remind you that you’re not the one in control. If you ever see me, ask me to show you my album of fishing trips. I have fun stories that end with my freezer loaded with lots of fish!

What advice would you give to someone who is going to be a patient in a hospital for a period of time?

Get to know and appreciate the many people involved in your care: care coordinators, patient service reps, pharmacists, paramedics, therapists, housekeepers, volunteers, and many others work with your provider to give you the best care possible. Nurses are patients’ true champions. Take a moment and thank these people. And make sure you ask questions. As a provider, I want my patients to understand their care plan and make an informed decision they are comfortable with.