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NEWS + NOTES
alumni Dr. Kevin Teehee now works in the emergency department of Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, California.
Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Kevin Teehee
In His Own Words: Kevin Teehee, MD ’97
Kevin Teehee, MD ’97, is one of 250 Native Americans actively
practicing medicine in the United States. After completing an
internship in general surgery at UC Davis and a residency in family
medicine at USC, he was selected as the ﬁrst full-time medical
director at American Indian Health & Services Clinic in Santa Barbara,
California. Dr. Teehee also has served as California representative for
the Executive Council on the National Council of Clinical Directors for
the Indian Health Service. He was awarded the Outstanding Model
Program Award from the Association of American Indian Physicians
and honored by the organization as its Outstanding Member Afﬁliate.
Recently, he returned to the American Indian Health & Services Clinic
to serve on its board of directors.
My roots are from the Cherokee Nation of rural Oklahoma.
Although my parents both attended government Indian boarding
schools from the age of 8 and never returned home, they passed
on the Cherokee heritage and values to my brother and me. I grew
up in rural Northern California, attended UC Berkeley and was
motivated to be a physician by the traditional Cherokee values of
generosity and emotional, physical, spiritual and social well-being.
I can assure you that no one who knew me in my youth would
have guessed that I would have ended up an accomplished doctor
in a big city.
42 U MAGAZINE
When applying to medical school, I was immediately attracted
to the Charles Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program because
of its mission to transform the lives of underserved communities
through health education, biomedical research and compassionate
patient care. I did not want to attend any other school. I identified
with this patient population because it was similar to my family
and hometown community. My entire medical career has been
spent providing quality healthcare to the underserved. I truly
enjoy practicing clinical medicine in this setting.
The part of medicine I am still most passionate about is the
first challenging seconds of meeting an apprehensive patient who
may be distrustful of doctors, receiving information through
a translator or frightened by the uncertainty of their medical
condition. I intentionally use words that will make the patient and
family members comfortable and will give them confidence in the
care they will receive. Often, I use humor. If I can get the patient to
crack a smile, then the rest is easy.
For more information about the American Indian Health & Services
Clinic, go to: aihscorp.org