UF COM graduate Mariana Khawand heads to NYC for family medicine residency

Recent UF College of Medicine graduate, Mariana Khawand. Photo by Maria Belen Farias

For recent UF COM graduate Mariana Khawand, family medicine is the best of both worlds – it gives her the chance to treat a mix of patients with all types of conditions, while also allowing her to be actively involved in public health and patient advocacy.

“I’m definitely passionate about primary care,” she said. “You get the chance to connect with your patients.”

Khawand, who was president of the College of Medicine’s class of 2011, landed her top choice for a residency in family medicine – she will be at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, close to her husband, Jonathan “Yoni” Azoulai, M.D.

Azoulai, a 2009 UF COM graduate, is a second-year emergency medicine resident at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. The couple, who recently got married in Miami April 16, met at Khawand’s first-year orientation.

Khawand didn’t always know she wanted to be a doctor. Born in Lebanon, she moved to Miami with her family as an infant. She studied engineering but changed to microbiology and immunology as an undergraduate at the University of Miami. She initially planned to pursue her doctorate in immunology or pharmacology but decided she wanted to work with patients, as opposed to spending time in a lab.

She earned a master’s degree in physiology and biophysics from Georgetown University, then headed to medical school. It was grueling, but she still made time to advocate for her classmates and pursue interests in holistic, global and adolescent medicine.

Another reason Khawand likes family medicine is that it allows her to address the whole patient. She was active in the UF chapter of the American Holistic Medical Association, which hosted a health and wellness retreat and held weekly yoga sessions. She also participated in international outreach trips to Gambia, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

In addition, Khawand spent two months in the Bronx on reproductive health and community-oriented primary care rotations, focused on teens and sexual education counseling.

“I like the challenge (of working with teens),” she said. “I like educating and empowering patients – and the younger they are, the more impact you’ll have on their lives.”