Talk to Dr. Brandi Alexander about why she chose family medicine as her speciality and she quickly says she loves being able to care for patients that range from the very young to seniors.
“It provides the variety I need to remain stimulated by my everyday work,” she said.
UNLV Medicine's Family Medicine Clinic at 1524 Pinto Lane, where Alexander sees patients, handles thousands of patient visits per year, including expectant mothers, children, adults and the elderly. Also under its health care umbrella is the UNLV Medicine Sports Medicine Clinic, whose doctors also treat members of the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team and the Las Vegas Aviators Triple-A minor league baseball club.
In addition to treating and diagnosing illness, Alexander and her colleagues provide preventive care, including routine checkups, health-risk assessments, immunization and screening tests, and personalized counseling on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
UNLV Medicine family physicians also manage chronic illness, often coordinating care provided by other subspecialists. They provide ongoing personal care for the country’s most serious health problems like diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease, referring patients when necessary to another specialist for treatment.
An assistant professor with the School of Medicine since November, Alexander grew up around the practice of medicine.
Her mother was a secretary at a hospital in Union City, Tennessee, so seeing doctors and nurses was as common for Alexander as seeing cars driving down the street.
“I visited my mom all the time at the hospital as a little girl,” she said. “I don’t know exactly when I decided to become a doctor but it just seemed like it would be a natural part of life to me.”
Her interest in medicine only grew stronger, she said, when an aunt bought her a science kit from a JC Penney catalog that contained a microscope and slides.
“It was something I really wanted but it seemed very expensive at the time,” Alexander said. “I just loved it. It helped me see things in so many different ways.”
Academics were always important in the Alexander household.
“As far as I can remember, my mom took the time to read to me and help me with spelling words. She never turned down the opportunity to stay at the library with me for hours while I searched for books to read. I do come from a family of readers. My grandmother had two bookcases with hundreds of books she’d read twice over.”
Alexander enjoys reading about Black physicians and professionals and their contributions to medicine and the nation, information that often wasn’t readily available during her early schooling.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Alexander graduated from Meharry Medical College in the same city. At Meharry she also completed a primary care and enhancement fellowship.
Her family medicine residency was completed at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Ohio. In 2020, she also completed a fellowship in maternal child health at West Suburban Medical Center/PCC Community Wellness in Oak Park, Illinois.
There is one childbirth case that Alexander assisted on during her maternal health/obstetrics fellowship that she’ll never forget.
“I had only met the patient briefly to introduce myself and let her know that I would be assisting in her procedure. Oftentimes, nerves kick in once the patient is placed on the operating table and patients begin to look to us for comfort. As we’re getting her ready she said, ‘Where is my girl? Where is my girl with the braids.’ That day, the girl with the braids was me.
"In a field where African American women experience increased rates of morbidity and mortality because of discrimination, it was important for me to comfort her and assure her that we’d listen to her and do our best at caring for her and her growing family. I felt very blessed. That I was where I needed to be. Being an advocate for women is very important to me.”
Married to Dr. Justin Jeffries, who is completing a Pulmonary and Critical Care Fellowship with the UNLV School of Medicine, Alexander has set long-term goals.
“Eventually, I hope to incorporate more obstetrics in my practice to use my full scope of training,” she said. “I love the variety that it adds to family medicine. During residency, I served on several diversity committees to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in medicine, so I hope to get back to that. I also had a scholarship that I awarded to students from my high school. I’m working on revamping the scholarship in a foundation aimed at mentorship and providing students in high school and higher education with school supplies and study materials for things like the [Medical College Admission Test]."