Welcome Internist, Dr. Sarah Alvord


August 2013

Dr. Sarah Alvord isn’t your average internist. She came to medicine the long way. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s degree in History, she pursued her love of the culinary arts by becoming a professional chef. After working for almost twenty years in the restaurant business in San Francisco, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, she got tired of the “business” part of the food world, and took some time to figure out what she wanted to do.

“If you’d asked me at 14 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you, ‘A doctor,’ but I got busy doing other things,” she said. After some soul searching, Dr. Alvord did what many are reluctant to do—she made a huge change in her life, choosing a goal that required hard work and sacrifice. She said, “It didn’t feel particularly brave; [pursuing medicine] was just what I needed to do. I thought about becoming a nurse practitioner, but my brain was hungry for even more knowledge and science, so I decided to become a doctor.”

She completed her pre-med courses at the University of New Mexico while working at a tutoring center. Both were excellent preparation for medical school. The science courses provided her with technical knowledge, and working in education enhanced her communication skills.

Once she completed her prerequisites, she was accepted to St. George’s University Medical School. After graduating from medical school in 2010, she moved to Philadelphia to complete her internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine, Hahnemann University Hospital. This fall, she plans to start seeing patients at Hillside Health Center’s new Internal Medicine building in Ukiah.

“I’ve received excellent training in Philly. I’ve worked with underserved populations in the inner city in large hospitals that offer the most up-to-date treatments,” she said.

She said she’s enjoyed her time in Philadelphia, but is a California kid and ready to come home. She grew up in Menlo Park and her mother and father currently live in Palo Alto and Big Bear, respectively.

She is particularly excited to come to Mendocino County, where she spent summers in Anderson Valley as a child. “My family owned property in Anderson Valley and it is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Some of my fondest memories were made there,” she said.

In addition to the location, Dr. Alvord was drawn by the people and philosophy of Hillside Health Center. “They’re progressive, smart, and forward-thinking. They’re truly committed to serving the whole community and that’s what I was looking for. I’m not a concierge kind of doctor. I want to care for everyone who needs care,” she said.

In returning to her original passion of medicine, Dr. Alvord says she looks forward to the opportunity to learn every day, and that medicine appeals to her “old fashioned notion that the work we do should mean something.” She also noted that starting as a new doctor in her forties means she’s developed the compassion and patience that comes with losing friends and helping aging parents.

Because she chose a route to medicine that included a liberal arts degree and years working in other fields, she feels she can truly appreciate the privilege of caring for people. “I believe health care should be a collaborative effort. As we age, good health comes and goes. I want to meet my patients wherever they are in their life, and help them feel good. I want to know who they are as people and then translate the science of medicine to help them make informed decisions about their health.”


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