Dr. Sarah Alvord isn’t your average internist. She came to medicine the long way. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a Bachelor’s degree in History, she pursued her love of the culinary arts by becoming a professional chef. After working for almost twenty years in the restaurant business in San Francisco, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, she got tired of the “business” part of the food world, and took some time to figure out what she wanted to do.
“If you’d asked me at 14 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you, ‘A doctor,’ but I got busy doing other things,” she said. After some soul searching, Dr. Alvord did what many are reluctant to do—she made a huge change in her life, choosing a goal that required hard work and sacrifice. She said, “It didn’t feel particularly brave; [pursuing medicine] was just what I needed to do.”
She was particularly excited to return to Mendocino County, where she spent summers in Anderson Valley as a child. “My family owned property in Anderson Valley and it is one of my favorite places in the whole world. Some of my fondest memories were made there,” she said.
In addition to the location, Dr. Alvord was drawn by the people and philosophy of MCHC. “They’re progressive, smart, and forward-thinking. They’re truly committed to serving the whole community and that’s what I was looking for. I’m not a concierge kind of doctor. I want to care for everyone who needs care,” she said.
In returning to her original passion of medicine, Dr. Alvord says she looks forward to the opportunity to learn every day, and that medicine appeals to her “old fashioned notion that the work we do should mean something.” She also noted that starting as a new doctor in her forties means she’s developed the compassion and patience that comes with losing friends and helping aging parents.
Because she chose a route to medicine that included a liberal arts degree and years working in other fields, she feels she can truly appreciate the privilege of caring for people. “I believe health care should be a collaborative effort. As we age, good health comes and goes. I want to meet my patients wherever they are in their life, and help them feel good. I want to know who they are as people and then translate the science of medicine to help them make informed decisions about their health.”