Member of the Month: John Vanderzyl, MD

Sugar Land doc steered toward family medicine by personal mentors

By Samantha White
April 05, 2023

John Vanderzyl, MD, thought he wanted to be an engineer, having grown up with an engineer father. After beginning his college career as an engineering major, Vanderzyl decided it wasn’t the right fit, and instead earned a political science degree from Texas A&M University while applying to medical school. He attended what is now called McGovern Medical School at UT Houston, and served as chief resident at the Memorial Family Medicine Residency program in Sugar Land.

After working for a family practice group for seven years, he formed his own practice in 2000 with a friend and colleague, John Pozzi, MD. Vanderzyl continues to practice today at Sugar Lakes Family Practice, a 13-provider medical group, with eight physicians and five advanced practice providers. He has also served and continues to serve in a number of leadership positions including chief medical officer of a physician network, and medical director of a local health plan, a palliative care company, and a number of IPAs, CINs, and ACOs.

Who or what inspired you to become a family physician?

I come from a family with no physicians and no previous connection with medicine. However, I was always impressed and inspired by my family physician, Dr. Albert Dashiell, while growing up. He was friends with Dr. Frank Webber, whom I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with. Dr. Webber was larger than life and a well-known family physician who made others want to follow in his footsteps. Perhaps my biggest inspiration was Dr. George Zenner III, the father of a close friend in high school. I spent a great deal of time with the Zenner family throughout high school, college, medical school, and beyond. I loved his stories about medicine (and anything else for that matter), and it was clear that he cared deeply for his patients and medicine. Dr. Zenner had a unique rapport with patients and colleagues alike, which I admired a great deal.

What unique challenges are represented in your patient community?

Sugar Land/Fort Bend County is one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country. This presents predictable cultural and language challenges. Economic hardships are also plentiful in this community and medical care, testing, medication, and treatment come with a cost that may be unaffordable. One of the biggest obstacles people face is access to medical care. Many patients are underinsured or have no insurance at all. Finding a primary care physician with open panels, who is available to see them in a timely fashion, can be difficult. All these factors often lead to patients seeking the wrong level of care, as happens in urgent care or emergency room settings. These challenges can also cause patients to neglect chronic conditions and preventive care.

What has surprised you most about family medicine?

I think I have been most surprised at how fulfilling my career in family medicine has been. During my 30 years in practice, I have developed numerous close relationships with patients, many of whom I now consider friends, and it has been very gratifying to care for up to four generations of some families in my practice.

Why do you choose to be a TAFP member?

TAFP is the advocacy organization most closely aligned with the wants and needs of family physicians in Texas. TAFP gives us a unified, powerful voice when it comes to policy decisions regarding patient care and access, payment model reform, scope of practice, and numerous other issues. I find the leadership of TAFP invaluable in terms of my staying current on issues affecting family physicians in Texas. I have thoroughly enjoyed the networking opportunities I have been exposed to and have developed many lasting friendships with members and staff at TAFP.

What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?

I love spending time with my wife and two daughters. As our girls get older, attend college and begin their careers, we are travelling more and have a long bucket list of destinations that we are looking forward to checking off. I also enjoy reading, running, fishing, and golf.

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 or by phone at (512) 329-8666.