Alexandria McDow, MD, an endocrine surgeon at Indiana University, has taken her work abroad to help treat and educate underserved communities in low- and middle-income countries.
Alexandria McDow, MD, first discovered the power of medicine as a child: She was born with a heart condition and until age 13 was a pediatric cardiology patient.
"I went into medicine to give back," says McDow. "I love talking to people and I love science. I thought medicine would integrate those passions."
On a trip to the Dominican Republic as a medical student, she saw how many patients had endemic goiters and decided to specialize in endocrine surgery. She was fascinated not only with the physiology of the endocrine system but also by the anatomy of the head and neck. She realized that as a surgeon, she could really change people's lives. "I could bring patients from 'I'm unable to work' to putting them back into the workforce," she says.
McDow completed her general surgery residency at Southern Illinois University in 2017 and went onto a fellowship in endocrine surgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After arriving at Indiana University in 2019, she has continued to focus on medical care in underserved countries and mentoring students.
While on a fellowship in Kenya, McDow was instrumental in helping to expand a regional referral center, so it became a partnership with physicians and nurses in the United States and in Kenya.
"I could go over and do 500 cases over a short period," she says. "But my goal is to teach other physicians how to do this type of care so that it multiplies my impact there."
McDow aims to establish an international coaching program, in which providers in low- and middle-income countries would have a mentor they could reach out to with questions on complex patient cases, or just to have a sounding board.
"I think the technology is advancing to the point where we will ultimately be able to do that," McDow says.
As part of Medscape's celebration of our 25th anniversary this year, we're recognizing 25 young physicians who are rising stars in medicine, poised to become future leaders of their fields. View the full list here.
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