Dr. Marta Marnell: Annelle M. Ahmed, M.D., Women’s Health Care Award

By Jan Jarvis

Dr. Marta Marnell

Dr. Marta Marnell always wanted to be a teacher like her dad. 

But two years of teaching science to 7th and 8th graders in a low-income public school changed her mind. It wasn’t that the students were unruly, it was more that she couldn’t help them like she had hoped, Dr. Marnell said.

She turned to medicine, hoping she could help people in a way she could not as a teacher.

“I ended up treating patients who were a lot like my students,” Dr. Marnell said. “They were young and pregnant and misinformed.”

The recipient of the 2012 Annelle M. Ahmed, M.D., Women’s Health Care Award has brought her love of teaching full circle by educating her patients and helping them address issues they otherwise might ignore.

The award is given annually in honor of Dr. Ahmed, a UT Southwestern faculty member in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology who died of breast cancer at age 39.

“Dr. Marnell was an easy choice for the award. She is very smart and academically accomplished, but she also is incredibly compas sionate,” said Dr. Vanessa Rogers, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

“She always went the extra mile to make her patients comfortable and secure,” Dr. Rogers said. “Marta is the type of physician that you want your mother, sister, or daughter to have the privilege of seeing. And that's exactly how Dr. Annelle Ahmed was as well.”

Dr. Marnell grew up in Kissimmee, Fla., where her first job was working at Walt Disney World Resort. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame and began a teaching career in Everman, near Fort Worth.

Two years later, she set her sights on medical school.

“Slowly all the pieces came together for me: teacher, helping other people, and science,” she said.

During her first year at UT Southwestern, she volunteered with the Dallas Independent School District, teaching students about sexually transmitted diseases. Later, she went on medical missions to El Paso.

While working at Parkland Memorial Hospital, she saw how she could make a difference to patients at different stages of their lives. During her third year, she was especially touched by a young pregnant patient who was worried because she was going into labor and her husband was not there yet.

“When I first saw her, she wasn’t in labor yet, and I was with her a lot,” Dr. Marnell said. “It was amazing how quickly we developed a rapport and how someone attaches so quickly during these most important times.”

Dr. Marnell will continue her training with an obstetrics and gynecology residency at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Dr. Pandya said. “Beneath this is a sincere belief that we can make a difference in the lives of people by volunteering to help those who are suffering and underserved.”