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Javed and Nawaz

Drs. Tariq Javed and Faiza Nawaz

Arranged marriages are fairly common across the world and in the nine years that Drs. Tariq Javed and Faiza Nawaz have been married, theirs has been a beautiful thing.

Both were matched in 2010, at the suggestion of a mutual friend, largely because their backgrounds were similar – a key component in successfully arranged marriages. Both were from rural areas in Pakistan and shared a love of medicine. He was a doctor in the U.S.; she was a doctor in Pakistan.

“My father always wanted me to marry a doctor,” Faiza said.

The Javeds wanted the same for their son. “They insisted, ‘You need a doctor.’ It was a little difficult,” said Dr. Javed. “They said, ‘They should have the same background and they should like each other, too.’”

With that requirement met, the doctors’ parents met and decided the two could see pictures of each other. After some innocent Facebook investigating, the phone conversations began. There was chemistry there and the relationship truly blossomed. Both said they were excited about the possibility of a future together and agreed to move forward with marriage. They met for the first time on their wedding day.

“I thought we would maybe meet before, but that was declined,” Dr. Javed said, smiling at his wife.

It is a memory that makes Dr. Nawaz smile. “He was expecting a lot,” she said, noting that she was getting ready for the Nikah ceremony, where both would sign the marriage contract before their parents. It would be the first of several ceremonies to finalize their marriage.

Fast forward eight years and the couple’s love for each other is as obvious as their love of medicine. It was that love that in 2014, brought the couple to Tulare County, especially because Kaweah Health had recently begun its residency programs – something that Dr. Nawaz would need as she went through the process of becoming a doctor in the U.S.

Dr. Javed, a doctor who specializes in helping people with kidney problems, knew that because the area had a high diabetic population, there would be many people in the area who could use his help. “This is my specialty because kidney disease is a burden for the patient, but also for the family. It is kind of a life-long relationship I try to have with the family that makes a difference for patients,” Dr. Javed said.

The couple also liked the area because it is a rural area similar to where each grew up in Pakistan. They liked the people and thought it was a good place to raise their two small children. They also liked Kaweah Health. That included what it offered them as doctors, especially if Dr. Nawaz, who was completing her U.S. board exams, could earn a spot in one of Kaweah Health’s new residency programs. If she could get into a program at Kaweah Health, that would mean the difference between keeping her close to her husband and children or having to live elsewhere to complete her residency, Dr. Nawaz said.

“We came with the intention to stay in this area. We thought we can both work here and I can get into the residency program,” said Dr. Nawaz, who would eventually apply to Kaweah Health’s Family Medicine residency program.

Kaweah Health’s six residency programs are highly competitive and bring thousands of residents to Tulare County each year. Many like the idea of completing a residency in California, but there are less than a dozen spots in each of the six specialties offered.

“I didn’t match right away, but I didn’t give up on my dream of helping people,” Dr. Nawaz said.

With her husband’s support, Dr. Nawaz worked as a scribe in Kaweah Health’s Emergency Department where she had a front row seat to patient care and worked to improve her communication skills. She also watched admiringly as her husband worked with his patients at his successful medical practice.

“Every day I would look at how he helps other people and I just wanted to be with him doing these things so we could both serve the area,” she said.

On the morning of March 8, 2018, Dr. Nawaz got the e-mail she had been waiting for. She had been accepted to Kaweah Health’s residency program.

“I started crying. We hugged each other,” she said. “He was always there with me, always guiding me and telling me, ‘You should never give up.’ He helped me. He has been with me through the whole process.”

Dr. Nawaz will graduate her residency program in 2021, at which point she will become a family practice physician in Tulare County. She will be a welcome addition to the community which is greatly in need of primary care physicians. To date, seven of the 18 Family Medicine graduates are practicing in Visalia.

Dr. Javed said Kaweah Health has become the couple’s second home. “Being here makes us feel like we are helping people in need,” he said. “It feels like we are doing the best thing for people.”