Embarking on a journey through medical school is a significant undertaking, filled with challenges, triumphs, and personal growth. For Dr. Alexa Wilden, this journey has been particularly remarkable. As the Ho Din Award recipient of the 2024 graduating class at UT Southwestern, Alexa exemplifies the qualities of a great physician: medical wisdom and human understanding. She recently shared personal insights into her medical school challenges and triumphs on the Learning From Leaders podcast.

Alexa’s path to medicine was deeply personal. Her mother’s illness during her childhood sparked her interest in health care. Experiencing the compassionate care provided by her mother’s doctors, nurses, and medical staff inspired Alexa to pursue a career where she could offer the same support and understanding to her future patients. This personal motivation has driven her throughout her medical education.

Challenges Faced During Medical School

The journey was not without its challenges. Before ever setting foot on a medical school campus, Alexa had to overcome the noise from detractors and doubters who said she couldn’t handle the pressure of being a doctor. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted a good portion of her time at medical school, forcing her education to shift to virtual formats. The isolation and the intense academic workload tested her resilience. However, she found solace and strength in her relationships—with her peers, family, and mentors. These connections were crucial in helping her stay focused on her purpose and goals.

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The High Moments of Medical School

One of the most joyful experiences during her time at UT Southwestern was meeting her fiancé, Kenneth. Their relationship blossomed amidst the pressures of medical school, providing Alexa with a source of unwavering support and companionship. Kenneth, an M.D./Ph.D. student, and Alexa have navigated the rigors of their studies together, creating a partnership that has strengthened them both.

Dr. Wilden with her fiancé, Kenneth Martinez Algarin.

Receiving the Ho Din Award was a profound honor for Alexa. Established by the Southwestern Medical Foundation in 1943, the award recognizes just one graduating medical student who most embodies medical wisdom and human understanding. Alexa was genuinely surprised to be chosen from among her outstanding peers. Her fiancé, Kenneth, played a pivotal role in orchestrating the surprise announcement, further adding to the special moment.

From Class Leader to Medical Leader

As Alexa transitions from medical school to her residency in internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, she reflects on the importance of mentorship. One of her most influential mentors was Dr. Michael Chiu, who became a pivotal figure in helping push Alexa in the right way during school and allowed her to shadow him in the clinic. His leadership in helping shape young medical students made a lasting impact on Alexa, shaping her own approach to mentoring and patient care.

Dr. Wilden on the Learning From Leaders podcast with host Lili Clark.

Alexa’s leadership style is grounded in leading by example. She believes that showing genuine passion and commitment can inspire others to do the same. Her involvement in free clinics at UT Southwestern has been a testament to this philosophy. These clinics provided Alexa with opportunities to mentor younger students and offer compassionate care to vulnerable patients, embodying the essence of her medical journey.

Alexa’s remarkable servant leadership and dedication to supporting her patients and peers reflect these values, highlighting her as an outstanding medical scholar and a compassionate human being.

Michael McMahan, President & CEO of Southwestern Medical Foundation

Looking ahead, Alexa is excited and nervous about the responsibilities that come with being a doctor. She aspires to be a physician who is always present, compassionate, and an unwavering advocate for her patients.

Dr. Alexa Wilden’s journey is a testament to the power of resilience, mentorship, and compassion. As she steps into her role as a medical professional, her story serves as an inspiration to future generations of doctors who aspire to combine medical expertise with genuine human connection.