Shawna Nesbitt, M.D.

Shawna Nesbitt, M.D.

  • John C. Vanatta III Professorship
  • Internal Medicine - Hypertension
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)


Shawna D. Nesbitt, M.D., M.S., the John C. Vanatta III Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, is an expert in diagnosing and treating blood-pressure disorders – both hypertension and hypotension – particularly complex and refractory cases.

She serves as Medical Director of Parkland Health’s Hypertension Clinic as well as Vice President and Chief Institutional Opportunity Officer.

A Fellow of both the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Hypertension and the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), Dr. Nesbitt is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

She is also an ASH-certified clinical hypertension specialist and a certified national medical board examiner.

Dr. Nesbitt’s research interests include hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hypertension in African Americans, oxidative stress, and the genetics of prehypertension.

She has published scores of scholarly articles, authored and co-authored a number of book chapters, and delivered many national and international invited lectures about these and related topics. She is currently involved in several clinical trials.

Named a 2016, 2017, and 2018 D Magazine Best Doctor, Dr. Nesbitt is a past president of the International Society of Hypertension in Blacks. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the American Heart Association Hypertension Council and as the Chairperson for the American Heart Association Southwest Affiliate North Texas Hypertension Collaborative.

She was nominated for the AHA’s 2016 Louis B. Russell Award for Service in Healthcare Disparities to Minorities, named a 2014 Visionary in Diversity in Medicine by INSIGHT Into Diversity, and honored with Allstate Insurance’s 2004 Outstanding Individual in Science and Medicine Award.

Dr. Nesbitt earned her medical degree at Hahnemann University College of Medicine. She completed an internal medicine residency at Allegheny General Hospital and a fellowship in hypertension at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers.

She also holds an M.S. in clinical research design and statistical analysis from the University of Michigan School of Public Health, as well as a B.S. (cum laude) from Gannon University through its Accelerated Medicine Program.

Prior to joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 2001, Dr. Nesbitt served as an Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan’s Department of Internal Medicine.

Meet Dr. Nesbitt

Blood Pressure Specialist in Dallas

Dr. Nesbitt specializes in evaluating and treating people with blood pressure disorders – both high blood pressure (hypertension) and low blood pressure (hypotension) – particularly those with difficult-to-treat conditions and special issues not met by their primary care doctors.

She remembers listening to the adults in her family discuss their high blood pressure when she was a child.

“They always talked about going to the doctor for their blood pressure, but no one ever talked about it being controlled,” Dr. Nesbitt says. “I commonly saw strokes and heart disease in my African-American family and community, and even then, I recognized them as real, life-limiting conditions.”

She adds: “I knew that if I was going to be a doctor, I wanted to take care of people suffering from what I viewed as a major problem. It’s my passion, and as one of my mentors once told me, ‘If you follow your passion, excellence will always be there.’”

That excellence starts with thoroughly evaluating the whole patient – and then recognizing and correctly diagnosing any underlying causes of blood pressure disorders.

Treating the Whole Patient

Once she uncovers the cause of a patient’s high or low blood pressure, Dr. Nesbitt treats the condition in conjunction with the appropriate UT Southwestern specialists. These may include interventional radiologists, cardiologists, or urologists; endocrine surgeons; nephrologists; or movement disorders specialists.

“Hypertension and hypotension don’t occur in a vacuum; they occur in people who may have a lot of other medical issues going on at the same time – including things like anxiety, cancer treatment, and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease,” she says.

“This is why I really delve into working with patients who haven’t been able to control their blood pressure despite multiple treatments, and why I step back and review concurrent conditions and look for more obscure reasons for blood pressure problems.”

Named a D Magazine Best Doctor in 2016, Dr. Nesbitt is board certified and fellowship trained.

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Education & Training
  • Graduate School - University of Michigan, School of Public Health (1997-1999)
  • Fellowship - University of Michigan Hospitals & Health Centers (1991-1992), Hypertension
  • Medical School - Hahnemann University College of Medicine (1984-1988)
  • Other Post Graduate Training - University of Michigan, School of Public Health (1997-1999)
  • Residency - Allegheny General Hospital- Internship Program (1989-1991), Internal Medicine
  • Internship - Allegheny General Hospital- Internship Program (1988-1989), Internal Medicine
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • Member, International Society of Hypertension in Blacks
  • Member, Association of Black Cardiologist
  • Member, American Society of Hypertension
  • Member, American Heart Association
  • Member, American College of Physicians
Honors & Awards
  • John C. Vanatta III, Professorship 2024, Department of Medicine, UT Southwestern Medical Center
  • Commitment & Dedication Service Award 2023, CV Roman Medical Society, Dallas Chapter of National Medical Association
  • Loehr Lifetime Achievement Award 2023, American Heart Association/Woven Heart Healthy Lives Committee
  • John P. McGovern Annual Award Lecturer 2023, American Osler Society
  • Gold Humanism Honor Society 2021, UT Southwestern
  • Women Who STEAM Dallas 2019, The Links Organization
  • Outstanding Physician-PA Partnership of the Year 2018, Texas Academy of Physician Assistants
  • Best Doctors in Dallas 2017, D Magazine
  • Best Doctors in Dallas 2016, D Magazine
  • Outstanding Individual in Science and Medicine 2004, Allstate Insurance
  • Sankofa Award 2004, Allstate Insurance
  • Fellow 2002, American Heart Association and the Council for High Blood Pressure Research
  • Professional Development Seminar 2000, Junior Women Faculty
  • Teaching Seminar on Cardiovascular Epidemiology 1994, American Heart Association
Books & Publications
  • Oxidative Stress and Genetics of Prehypertension
  • Hypertension in African-Americans
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia

Clinical Focus

  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

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Q&A by Dr. Nesbitt