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Alumni Profile: Healing the Mind and Body

Posted by on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Alumni News, Alumni Profile, Spring 2024, Vanderbilt Community .

Photo by Lauren Bethany Photography

Cardiologist Sarah Samaan, MD, may have specialized in affairs of the heart, but she has always been interested in the whole patient — mind, body and well-being.

Thus, it makes perfect sense that when she retired from her 30-year cardiology practice in 2022, she shifted her focus to providing compassionate and actionable coaching for physicians.

 After she completed an internal medicine residency at the University of California, Irvine and a cardiology fellowship at the University of New Mexico, ​​Samaan dedicated her career to helping her patients achieve optimal health and well-being as a cardiologist, author and educator.

 “When I went into medical school, I had the idea I might go into psychiatry, but I quickly realized I liked the immediacy of cardiology, and I like the ability to change the trajectory of someone’s disease and bring them back to a healthier state,” Samaan said. “Cardiology was just a very positive field to go into.”

 Samaan recalls that renowned Vanderbilt cardiologist Rose Marie Robertson, MD, made an impression on her as a medical student “as a thoughtful, caring, but rigorous and innovative cardiologist. She was a role model even though I did not get to know her ​​well. Just seeing someone like that — who is a woman — was empowering.”

 Samaan was a liberal arts major in college and ​​has stayed connected to the arts throughout her life and as a supporter in the Dallas-area community where she lives. A competitive equestrian, Samaan discovered the benefits of yoga after she broke her arm in ​​1997, which made her realize she needed to gain more control over her body and move with her horse in a more organic way.

 “That led me to find yoga,” she said. “What I realized, a few months into it, is that I was using the breathing techniques I was using in yoga in my medical practice. It was an eye-opening situation.”

 Samaan decided in 2022 that it was time to explore her interest in the arts more fully and enrolled as a BFA student at Arizona State University where she is now a senior. She hopes to earn a master’s degree in fine arts and then teach in the medical humanities.

 In addition to being a certified yoga teacher, Samaan completed physician coaching training at the Physician Coaching Institute.

 “Physician coaching can take a number of different paths,” she said. “When we talk about coaching, we are talking about the individual and helping them align their personal and professional life with their values and their strengths and develop their plans to achieve goals that are meaningful to them.”

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