Member of the Month: Fozia Ali, MD
Highly regarded teacher enjoys vibrant practice, research, and mentoring students and residents
By Kate Alfano
Fozia Akhtar Ali, MD, is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health San Antonio, and cares for patients and mentors residents and medical students through Family Health Center and the Family Medicine Inpatient Service at University Hospital. Dr. Ali was born and raised in Pakistan and attended Allama Iqbal Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan. She moved to San Antonio to attend her family medicine residency at UT Health San Antonio where she served as chief resident and received the STFM Resident Teacher Award. She has been a faculty member since August 2011.
Dr. Ali actively leads research and quality improvement projects, also mentoring residents and students in these activities. Her research focus is obesity prevention and treatment, and she is a diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. At TAFP she serves as Chair of the Section on Research and serves on the TAFP Commission on Public Health, Clinical Affairs, and Research.
Dr. Ali also teaches medical students as a Longitudinal Pre-Clinical Student Preceptor and facilitates small groups of pre-clinical students. She was the 2019 recipient of TAFP’s Full-Time Exemplary Teaching Award and has been highly honored by many graduating classes of residents for her excellence as a mentor and teacher.
Who or what inspired you to pursue family medicine?
Inspiration for medicine first came from taking care of my grandmother who suffered from complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Watching my grandmother going through daily challenges of an illness and my parents struggling with her medication adherence not only helped me to understand the complexity of chronic conditions but also strengthened my passion for primary care.
As a foreign medical graduate in United States, I had privilege to work as a medical assistant with Dr. Zulifkarali Dhanani, a family physician in Houston, who was a great inspiration in my path toward pursuing family medicine.
What is the best part of practice for you?
Teaching helps me grow each and every day. I love sharing knowledge with medical students and residents as this is not only rewarding but also helps me to be a better physician.
What is the hardest part of practice? Who or what keeps you going on the hard days?
Dealing with various health insurance plans can be challenging sometimes. Being thankful to God at the start of each day for placing me in a position to help my patients gets me going.
How has your practice changed or adapted to serve patients during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our practice has adapted very well according to our patients’ needs on a day-to-day basis. We have been providing both telemedicine visits and office visits, which has helped us to stay connected with our patients even during the pandemic.
What are your passions, interests or hobbies outside of medicine?
I am grateful to be blessed with a beautiful family, my husband and two children (ages 7 and 16). My daughter loves cycling while my son likes to draw and I enjoy spending quality time with them. I like to cook and try to incorporate healthy ingredients while keeping our cultural heritage of food. I am fluent in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi but am also interested in exploring other languages. I’m learning Spanish and Arabic.
As a teacher, what advice do you most often give to students and residents?
- Treat your patients with integrity and empathy.
- Don’t limit yourself; learn the diversity that family medicine provides.
- Use a shared decision-making approach and be compassionate always. This skill goes long term and helps strengthen the patient-physician relationship.
- Stay connected to your community – it reminds you why you chose to become a doctor.
- Incorporate wellness into your daily routine.
- Lastly, get involved with TAFP as early as possible. TAFP is a great platform to see the bright future of family medicine.
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.