Member of the Month: Rida Khan, MD
FMLE alum reaches local community through radio
By Samantha White
New physician Rida Khan, MD, practices palliative care at MD Anderson in Houston, wanting to ease suffering when and as often as she can. When completing TAFP’s Family Medicine Leadership Experience in 2022, she used the program as an opportunity to focus on preventive care in a non-traditional way: through segments at a Houston South Asian radio station.
Can you briefly describe your career path?
It was by complete happenstance that my parents emigrated from Pakistan to the city with the largest medical center in the world. It worked out well for me in that I was able to complete medical school so close to home at Baylor College of Medicine. I stayed at Baylor for my family medicine residency, where I had the opportunity to learn from some of the most wonderful people. Residency comprises a lot of growth in general, but I felt like I grew the most when I served as chief my final year at the start of the pandemic. When I realized I might be interested in palliative medicine, I walked a couple blocks over to the #1 cancer center in the nation, MD Anderson, for my fellowship. I am now practicing palliative care there, being mentored by some of the most renowned palliative care physicians in the world.
Who or what inspired you to become a family physician?
I have extremely fond memories of growing up in southwest Houston. It’s only looking back now as an adult that I understand that area is an example of an urban underserved community, one that is largely populated by immigrants. Providing care to every member of the family and making long-term relationships with patients has always been what has appealed to me the most.
What are your practice passions?
To me, being a doctor has always meant easing suffering, and one of my favorite aspects of family medicine is encouraging patients to receive preventive care including vaccinations and screenings to prevent suffering when possible.
Tell us about your public health outreach radio project.
Now that I am practicing as a palliative physician, I have had to get a little more creative to satisfy my desire for encouraging preventive medicine. The Family Medicine Leadership Experience gave me the tools to start a project that has been just an idea in my head for a long time. I approached a local South Asian radio station here in Houston that has served the community for over 23 years, and has now expanded to over 192 countries. I expressed my desire to discuss health topics specific to our community in hopes to start a discourse about health issues that are often culturally brushed under the rug. After a radio segment where I generally introduced myself as a member of the community committed to improving our health, I returned to discuss cancer screenings, diabetes, hypertension, GERD, monkeypox, and mental health throughout several radio segments. Each time I was pleasantly surprised by the audience interaction in the form of texts and phone calls from listeners asking questions and encouraging each other by sharing stories of their successes and failures. There were times I stayed late in the studio to finish answering phone calls from excited listeners. Not only did I get to raise awareness and encourage conversations, but it was also a chance for me to get more comfortable with public speaking and work on my (medical) Urdu!
What has surprised you most about family medicine?
The reach of family medicine is extremely underrated. I remember a family medicine attending telling us medical students that the reason we don’t see as much family medicine in the medical center is because family medicine is out there in every community, big and small, making a difference. That has really stayed with me, and I am now expanding my horizons to the ways family medicine providers can reach a wider audience.
Why do you choose to be a TAFP member?
I admire TAFP’s commitment to promote the health of all Texans and am excited to contribute to that goal however I can. Coming together with other family medicine doctors at the conferences is always inspiring and reignites my passion, and as mentioned I thoroughly enjoyed participating in TAFP’s Family Medicine Leadership Experience.
What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
Outside of medicine, I prioritize spending time with my family (to know me is to know my obsession with my two nieces). I am fortunate enough to have many of my friends and family here in Houston to spend time with. My husband and I also try to spend time building healthy habits for the mind and body, whether it’s running, biking, or catching up on the week’s pick for our book club. Of course, the food scene here in Houston keeps me pretty busy as well!
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.