A Board Certified Pediatrician dedicated to caring for children and their families, Zaneb Beams ’90 directs Dr. Beams Medical Home, a primary care medical practice in Howard County, Maryland. In her practice, Zaneb helps her patients start life healthy from birth, continuing to care for and support young people through age 21.
In the fall 2017 issue of Cross Currents, Zaneb writes: “The Park School was the first educational environment where my family’s teaching of responsibility to the human community was systematically reflected. My home culture had always focused on service to others — directly, through patient care, as medical doctors — to less fortunate members of our religious community, and to those entrenched in deep poverty in my parents’ home country, Pakistan.
“Educators at The Park School encouraged us to read texts and learn history with an ethical filter. They asked questions like, ‘Do the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation?’ (a query on Henry David Thoreau’s assertion in Walden). This focus on the human community, and our place in it as teens, dovetailed with my own sense of responsibility to communities outside of home and school. Additionally, the Park School community consisted of peers who were similarly focused on community, service, and inquiry.”
After graduating from Park, Zaneb earned her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and went on to attend Rush Medical College. She proceeded into her medical career with a focus on serving communities — narrowly through direct patient care, and more broadly through legislative advocacy focused on increasing access to health care for all Americans.
In 2009 when President Obama and his team began working to expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans, Zaneb connected with a group called Doctors For America — a group of over 15,000 doctors focused on the goal of affordable health care. Through advocacy from her home in Howard County, to the Senate and White House, the group helped pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA), increasing and improving access to health insurance for millions of Americans. Zaneb wrote editorials in The Baltimore Sun, called into The Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR, appeared on MSNBC and PBS to show physician support for health care reform, and advised President Obama’s team.
Zaneb also ran for office in Howard County to help protect county level universal health care, and worked with ex-Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson in a health co-op made possible by the ACA. As the ACA became law, she shifted her focus locally, continuing to work closely with the Howard County school system and the Horizon Foundation to improve access to healthy food in our schools, caring for patients at her local homeless shelter, and working to improve our schools’ health and nutrition policies for children.
She notes in Cross Currents that her Park School education is not incidental in all of this work: “At Park, I read Salinger and Vonnegut and Sartre, who all reflected on the insanity of war. I read Perry Miller and Hannah Arendt and understood how our nation’s identity was forged. With The Courage of their Convictions I learned how legal precedent protects or erodes healthy societies. Through participation in the Amnesty International club, the literary magazine, and other activities, I began to understand leadership. After hallway conversations with John Roemer [history] and my peers during free periods, I clarified my instinct that all living things deserve empathy and care. These exposures, unique to Park’s learning environment, forged the servant, leader, physician, and neighbor I am still becoming.”