Dr. Janna Hardland: Lorraine Sulkin-Schein Medical Student Award in Geriatric Medicine

By Karen Willenbrecht

Dr. Janna Hardland
Dr. Janna Hardland

In her early teens, Dr. Janna Hardland experienced firsthand the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease when her grandfather came to live with her family. She watched him slowly decline from the smart, funny man she loved into someone who would forget treasured family memories.

It was a difficult transformation for Dr. Hardland to watch, but it was also one that prompted her decision to go into medicine, and specifically geriatrics, as she resolved to find a way to help seniors cope with age-related health issues.

She didn’t realize it then, but she was developing the skills that would earn her the Lorraine Sulkin-Schein Medical Student Award in Geriatric Medicine. The honor recognizes a medical student who has demonstrated compassion, keen interest, and commitment to the care of older adults.

The award is named in honor of Mrs. Schein, a longtime supporter of UT Southwestern Medical Center who bequeathed funds to UTSW to promote geriatrics as a career path for medical students. She died in 2007 at the age of 89.

Dr. Hardland, who grew up in Southlake,  Texas, studied zoology and Spanish at the University of Oklahoma. A monthlong rotation at Parkland Memorial Hospital that allowed her to work on a geriatrics care team led by attending physician Dr. Amit Shah set her on her career path.

She considers herself lucky to have worked with Dr. Shah, the mentor who nominated her for the award, and said his bedside manner and genuine care for his patients modeled the kind of physician she wants to be.

“I feel there are few students who have the ‘whole package’ to be an excellent primary care physician, and Janna has this,” said Dr. Shah, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine. “Her most exceptional attribute is her excellent bedside manner and how she genuinely enjoys hearing and understanding the story of the patient.”

Dr. Hardland said she was honored even to be considered for the award, and she hopes to live up to the principles it promotes. She’ll serve her residency in internal medicine at UT Southwestern, then she hopes to do a fellowship in geriatrics and eventually be a clinician/educator working in a combination of inpatient and outpatient settings.

“I love the patients, their stories, their complicated medical histories, and their unique physiology,” she said. “Geriatrics incorporates my interests in treating complex and intellectually challenging patients, providing comprehensive health care, and building strong personal relationships with my patients.”