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Sanaa Tejani, M.D.: Dr. Richard Mays Smith Award

Selected for an Archer Fellowship as an undergraduate, Dr. Sanaa Tejani interned at the United Nations and developed a database to assist refugees with low-cost medical and legal aid. She took these experiences in setting advocacy in motion and applied them to activities in medical school and beyond.

Sanaa Tejani, M.D.
Sanaa Tejani, M.D.

What this award means: Over the past four years, I have been fortunate to work with incredible mentors who inspire me with their compassion, empathy, academic curiosity, and clinical excellence. I hope that I can carry forward these values throughout my career.

Mentor comment: I was really impressed by how Sanaa practiced evidence-based medicine. She did not just propose tests and workups for intellectual curiosity – she always based her clinical decisions on what would best help the patient. – Stephanie Brinker, M.D., Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine

Background and family: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, and grew up in Dallas. My parents are both immigrants from Pakistan. They left everything behind in their home country to come here in hopes of building a better future for their family. I am constantly inspired by their grit and resilience in the face of any challenge.

What led to your career path: Growing up, I saw many members of my community struggle with chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes. Their health concerns were further exacerbated by issues of access and availability of health care, resulting in severe complications of their illnesses. This motivated me to seek out a career where I could combine my passions for science, advocacy, service, and public health. I was drawn to the field of internal medicine as it allowed me to apply my love of physiology to the care of the whole patient.

College: I graduated from UT Dallas with a major in biology and a minor in political science. I sought out opportunities to develop my passion for public health and policy, including completing internships with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. I was also able to cultivate my research interests through a project I developed on understanding barriers to women’s health care for refugee and immigrant women in Dallas.

UTSW activities: I served as the Clinic Operations Manager at the Monday Clinic, one of UT Southwestern’s student-run free clinics. I have also been involved as a peer mentor for Estabrook College, a Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program mentor, and an Internal Medicine clerkship reflections session facilitator.

Surprising fact: : I love learning new languages. Growing up, I was able to learn my parents’ native language of Urdu, and over the years I’ve had the chance to spend time learning varying amounts of Spanish, French, and Italian.

Ultimate career goal: I hope to cultivate my clinical knowledge and skills to best serve the needs of my patients. I also aspire to apply my passion for advocacy to address issues of health inequities at the health care system level.

Future plans: : I will be pursuing my residency in internal medicine here at UT Southwestern! I hope to remain in academic medicine, working primarily with underserved populations. Ultimately, I would love to work in a setting where I can combine my interests in clinical medicine, advocacy, service, and education.

About the award: The award is given annually to one or more graduating medical students who excel academically during clinical rotations and exhibit an interest in and compassion for patients.

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