Mentoring the future health workforce and helping them achieve their medical school dreams is just one way Alexa is paying it forward.
A native New Yorker, Alexa Mieses says that growing up in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens fundamentally shaped who she is today. “Growing up in a diverse place like Astoria and being biracial has really influenced the way I relate to other people,” she said.
From an early age, Alexa set her sights on becoming a doctor. “My mother had diabetes, and I remember going to the doctor with her and seeing the partnership she had with her physician,” Alexa recalled. “My mom didn’t always follow her diet perfectly or take her medications just right, but I remember that her doctor never scolded her. Instead, she just talked to my mom about how they could do better next time.”
That experience inspired the young Alexa. “I just thought, ‘Wow, if I could have an influence like that in someone’s life, that’s what I want to do.’”
After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, Alexa attended The City University of New York: City College, graduating in 2011 with a degree in biology. After a full-time research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, in 2012 she began her medical studies at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A month before her second year of medical school began, Alexa found time to merge her passions of writing and medicine and write a guide to medical school admissions called The Heartbeat of Success. “An organization called Mentoring in Medicine was hosting a 30-day ‘write your own book’ challenge, so I decided to do it,” Alexa said. “I wrote the book in 30 days, edited for a month or so and then published in October 2013.”
Alexa credits her achievements to the power of mentoring, which has become one of her driving passions. “We need more underrepresented minorities in medicine, and one way to make that happen is to mentor them so they’re prepared to take advantage of opportunities that come their way,” she said. That strong commitment led Alexa to pursue a career in family medicine, where she has the opportunity to go beyond a physician’s role and engage in community service, education and mentoring. “When I discovered family medicine, I knew it was exactly what I had always envisioned for myself.”
Alexa is especially excited to be able to serve members of the Latino community. “The Latino community is very underrepresented in medicine,” she said. “In health care, when patients can better relate to their providers, it makes for a better, more therapeutic alliance. With more Latino providers, we can provide more compassionate, culturally competent care to our Latino patients.”
Alexa says the support she’s received through the United Health Foundation Diverse Scholars Initiative has been invaluable in helping her pursue her goals. “The financial support is amazing and is especially significant for someone like me going into primary care,” she said. “In addition, I’ve been able to meet and exchange ideas with colleagues who have similar interests. There’s also a mentoring component that has allowed me to meet Latino thought leaders involved in policy and the legislative process.”
It’s that kind of support, Alexa says, that has helped her get to where she is today. “I 100 percent did not do this on my own,” she said. “I’ve been very lucky to have wonderful mentors along the way, and I’m excited to pay it forward to help bring greater diversity into the world of health care.”
Alexa was awarded a scholarship in 2015 to support her studies through a partnership between United Health Foundation and the National Hispanic Health Foundation.