Dr. John Alexander Jr.: Pepper Jenkins Award in Anesthesiology and Pain Management

Dr. John Alexander Jr. fit the doctor formula.

"I arrived at medicine the way a lot of people do -- I was good at school, liked science, liked the idea of helping people, and my family nurtured any fledgling notions of being a physician," said Dr. Alexander, a 2005 UT Southwestern graduate and recipient of the Pepper Jenkins Outstanding Medical Student Award in Anesthesiology and Pain Management.

He also liked the challenges of being an anesthesiologist. "I like having brief but intense encounters with my patients where I am constantly assessing them and thinking three steps ahead to fix a potential problem before it becomes a real problem.

Dr. John Alexander Jr.

"I am honored I was chosen to receive this award," said Dr. Alexander, whose honor was named after the late Dr. Jenkins, who created the anesthesiology department at UT Southwestern and served as its chairman from 1948 to 1981. "I hope that my performance as a resident is commensurate with the example Dr. Jenkins set forth throughout his career."

Looking back on his first day of medical school, the 26-year-old San Antonio native recalls a lecture by Nobel laureate Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Erik Jonsson Center for Research in Molecular Genetics and Human Disease. Halfway through, a classmate fainted and fell out of her chair. He wanted to help but realized he had no idea what to do.

Today when he recently saw a crowd gathering around a man who had passed out, however, he felt confident he could handle the situation.

"There have been a lot of incremental changes from that first day of school until now," Dr. Alexander said. "But, I can look back and see the sum total of it all, and I feel like I'm ready to be a physician."

During his four years of medical school, he worked with the emergency medicine student interest group organizing lectures, suture clinics and shadowing opportunities in the emergency room of Parkland Memorial Hospital. He also worked with Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of the allergy division, on asthma screening in children, and on a follow-up project that enabled him to obtain his medical degree with Distinction in Research.

"We are extremely proud to have a capable and energetic student like John engage in the practice of our craft. An academic practice or a vibrant community practice will serve him well," said Dr. James Griffin, associate professor of anesthesiology and pain management and director of Anesthesiology Medical Student Education.

"John has attended numerous journal clubs and special lectures throughout his medical school career, and this level of interest is atypical of our basic student."

Dr. Alexander and his wife, Tina, will remain in Dallas where he will begin a four-year residency in anesthesiology this fall at UT Southwestern.