Student leader for women’s health
At Texas A&M, we celebrate the American Medical Association’s Women in Medicine Month this September by highlighting a few of our extraordinary female researchers, scientists, physicians and students who are making meaningful contributions to medicine every day on our campuses and across the globe.
Sara Yasrebi, a second-year medical student and president of the Women in Medicine organization at the College of Medicine, is one of these remarkable women. To help mark Women in Medicine Month, she answers some questions about the profession and her life.
Q: Why did you choose to attend medical school?
A: For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a physician. Going to the doctor always seemed like the right answer—whether someone needed help starting life, care as their life was coming to a close, or with any problems in between. It’s a privilege to have the capacity to help people in this way and to play such an integral role in their life.
Q: How are you advocating for women’s health issues?
A: I believe that half the battle is staying up to date on research and recognizing that with regards to health complications, women present differently than men. Not knowing these differences often leads to needless medical errors and worse prognosis. Medical students have so much more of a voice than we realize, and it’s important to use our unique position to help people now rather than waiting until we graduate with our MDs. I revitalized the Women in Medicine Organization here at the College of Medicine along with several dedicated M1s, M2s and our faculty adviser, Dr. Jennifer Friedman. This week, we held the first Women in Medicine Celebratory Banquet featuring our keynote speaker, Dr. Dawn Sears. More than 100 students, local health care providers, faculty and staff showed up to learn about the differences that women in medicine experience. Her inspiring speech was a reminder that the lack of awareness about women’s health issues and bias in medicine isn’t intentional—people just don’t know. Our organization aims to start and continue the conversation, no matter how uncomfortable, and include everyone in our path to equity and inclusivity.
Q: Will your eventual specialty be focused on women?
A: I often get asked if I want to become an OB-GYN physician. The truth is, I like almost everything that I’ve been exposed to so far, especially cardiology, pediatrics and OB-GYN. No matter which field I choose, advocating for women’s health issues will be an integral role in my career. You don’t have to be an OB-GYN to be an advocate—in most fields, 50% of patients are women.
Q: Are there any women in medicine, past or present, who inspired or influenced you to pursue a career in the field?
A: I come from a family of strong women. My mother is a physical therapist and primarily works with the underserved population in Austin. She showed me how much of a difference you can make just by being educated on the disparities in medicine and showing your patients that you understand.
Q: Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give girls who want to pursue a career in medicine?
A: You have so much more of a support group than you may realize—one that you will never see until you try.
Q: Why Texas A&M?
A: I earned by bachelor’s in biomedical sciences from Texas A&M University, where I met Mr. Filomeno Maldonado and Mr. Fernando Vasquez. These two men are one of the main reasons why I pride myself on being a medical student at Texas A&M—they have encouraged me during difficult times, believed in me when I faltered and advocated for me when I couldn’t advocate for myself. When I was just an undergraduate student, they supported me in ways that truly exemplify the meaning of “Aggie family.” All medical schools are prestigious and rigorous, designed to teach you everything you need to know about being a physician—but it is truly unique to experience such above-and-beyond support and faith from everyone at Texas A&M’s College of Medicine.
Q: What is your personal motto?
A: I have a quote from Theodore Roosevelt taped above my desk that reads, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” When things get difficult, it reminds me that this is how it’s supposed to be—this isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be worthwhile.