Dr. Krista Alexander: North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians Award for Outstanding Medical Student in Psychiatry
Rolland C. Reynolds Pathology Award
By Rachel Skei Donihoo
As she describes her life as a student at UT Southwestern, her formidable accomplishments and the endless possibilities for the future, Dr. Krista Alexander can’t help but blurt out, “Life is so exciting!”
“Blown away” by the options and her own good fortune, she says she can’t wait to embark on a medical career many years — and continents — in the making.
Dr. Krista Alexander
The 36-year-old Texas native, who has traveled the globe exploring her love of languages and people, says she knew that one day her varied interests would lead her to a career in medicine. Although she didn’t begin medical school until a decade after graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and Spanish from Rice University, she insists it is the lessons learned on her journey that prepared her for the next phase of her life.
“I’ve had some wonderful adventures, but there is still so much to learn,” said Dr. Alexander, who has served as a volunteer English teacher in Taiwan, an apprentice midwife in Northern Europe and an international affairs liaison for the city of Houston. “Linguistics was my first love, but I realized fairly early on that I wanted something more than just a scholarly pursuit; I wanted a life of hands-on service. Medicine gives me the best of both. I came to UT Southwestern after realizing that I needed more than curiosity and compassion to make a difference in people’s lives. I needed mastery of a set of useful skills, which I’ll be working toward for the rest of my life.”
That enthusiasm for medicine, knowledge and the world around her has earned Dr. Alexander two prestigious student honors, the 2010 North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians Award for Outstanding Medical Student in Psychiatry (an honor she shares with classmate Dr. Kala Bailey) and the Rolland C. Reynolds Pathology Award. The Reynolds award, which includes $1,500, was named after the pathology professor who was revered for his sincere interest in his fellow man and for his desire to make the world a better place.
Dr. Alexander also was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. She served as the committee chair of Project Remedy, a new AOA-sponsored program at UT Southwestern that salvages opened but unused surgical supplies for distribution to medical facilities in the developing world.
“Krista is a terrific doctor who sees beyond her patients to their family and the community in which they live,” said Dr. James Richardson, professor of pathology, molecular biology and plastic surgery. “She will strive to empower her patients and families as they deal with illness and disease through her enormous capacity for caring.”
After graduation, Dr. Alexander and her husband, UT Southwestern Ph.D. candidate Peter Alexander, will relocate to North Carolina. She is one of only four students accepted to Duke University’s combined residency program in internal medicine and psychiatry. She said the five-year program will enable her to explore her “cluster of interests,” which include women’s health, autoimmune diseases, oncology, geriatrics and palliative care, and the interrelationship between physical health and mental illness.
“There are so many things that appeal to me right now, so it will be interesting to see where further training takes me,” she said.
During her time in medical school, Dr. Alexander became co-president of the Psychiatry Student Interest Group with Dr. Bailey. Together they applied for and received a $5,000 grant to implement a mental health screening, evaluation and referral program for a free medical clinic run by UT Southwestern students at North Dallas Shared Ministries.
This initiative is one of the things that has made her a standout, explained Dr. Adam Brenner, associate professor of psychiatry and director of medical student education in psychiatry. “Krista has wonderful energy and a true compassion for the people around her. Her intelligence, professionalism and enthusiasm for learning have been an inspiration to our faculty and her fellow students. She is uniquely deserving of the honors she has been given.”