Caring for hearts in my community


Just a few weeks ago, I reconnected with an influential person from my past – right here in my office.

Before I attended medical school, I was a student in the School of Public Health at UT Southwestern. After I graduated with my Master’s in Public Health, I worked as a researcher in the UT Southwestern Hypertension Program. I was involved in a research project that gave me the opportunity to be active in the community and learn about the public’s perceptions regarding cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Our goal was to determine people’s knowledge about the treatments available for heart problems and where they would seek medical care if they needed it. My research led me to bus stops, barbershops, civic centers, community centers, and churches, where I visited with members of the community.

One day I met a wise, older woman who shared her thoughts and opinions with me. She was the community liaison for one of the local community health centers – she embodied the title “servant leader.” The woman had been struggling with hypertension, though I didn’t know that at the time.

It was touching to see how respected she was by other community members. We had many conversations, and her ideas stuck with me as my research progressed.

Fast forward about 10 years. I am now a cardiologist in the Richardson/Plano community-based clinical center.

Imagine my surprise when the woman I met during my research project visited my office seeking treatment for high blood pressure. It took us a few minutes to recognize each other, but then it clicked.

Patients like her are the reason I decided to become a cardiologist. It really warms my heart to know that so many years ago we connected, and now I’m taking care of her so she can continue to care for others.

My journey to medicine

My research gave me a unique opportunity to discover the heart of the community and uncover barriers to the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Many positive things came out of that research. First, we learned that many people did not use prescription medications to manage their heart health; instead, they relied on over-the-counter products or herbal supplements. For cardiovascular disease, that is simply not enough.

Just as important, we discovered that many people relied on community centers for health information instead of accepting information from their doctors. From this we learned that we need to do more to build trust with our patients and with people in the community.

When the project was done, I missed those one-on-one conversations with people and learning about their needs. My desire to reconnect with the community prompted my journey to medicine. With encouragement from fellow researchers, I attended medical school and specialized in cardiovascular disease.

Why I chose a community clinic

I live in Plano. Growing up, one of the most important things I learned was to always be a positive influence in my community. Richardson/Plano is my community.

My vision for cardiology at the UT Southwestern Clinical Center at Richardson/Plano is to provide a medical home and an excellent heart health center. People no longer have to leave the community in order to receive skilled cardiovascular care. The clinic is able to tailor care to what our community needs.

There are a lot of advantages to practicing in a community-based clinic. We can develop a close relationship with our patients. We’re able to address the specific needs existing in our community by reaching out to specific civic and community centers. The community-based clinic allows us to be a dependable resource for local people who need care.

Treating the whole family

Many cardiovascular conditions originate from genetic causes or lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise habits, which family members often share. When a patient comes to see me, I care not only for that patient but also for his or her family – if one family member has heart disease, it impacts the whole family.

For example, if a parent with kids at home develops congestive heart failure, it can result in a trickle-down effect. The whole family will experience change because of the parent’s limitations – from what they eat, to how much they exercise, to simply getting out of the house.

I really take pride in caring for the whole family, even though they may not be in my office all at one time. Each patient I care for is one part of a bigger whole – remembering that gives me a bigger perspective. I have a family, too. Treating the whole family is a cause I hold dear to my heart.

If you or a loved one need cardiovascular care, come see me and my team at the community-based UT Southwestern Clinical Center at Richardson/Plano. Request an appointment online or call 972-669-7070. I’m excited to provide cardiovascular care right here in my community.