Lieutenant Commander Ayeetin Azah, MD: 2022 International Resident Leader
Lieutenant Commander Ayeetin Azah, MD, MBA, who served for five years as a US Navy Flight Surgeon, is a resident in Internal Medicine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre in Bethesda, Maryland. A consummate professional who has deployed around the globe in support of US military operations, Dr. Azah is a remarkably effective leader who has made a deep impression on her peers and instructors at Walter Reed.
Supporting the success of her peers
Examples abound of the ways in which Dr. Azah’s leadership promotes the success of her peers and future residents. She consistently volunteers her free time to review other residents’ evaluation reports, which are required every year in the Navy and are critical to physicians’ career progression. She connects her peers with mentors and role models and regularly advocates for other residents. And she compiles study resources and educational materials for medical officers who join the residency program. Her efforts have already produced a 24-page handbook with instruction and teaching on the medical topics that residents regularly encounter in hospital medicine.
A natural leader and gifted collaborator
Dr. Azah established her proclivities as a leader at the beginning of her residency. Before she arrived for orientation, she asked to be platoon leader to co-lead her peers in clinic and organize academic days. Dr. Azah has inspired other residents by modelling exceptional, high-quality patient care and by establishing structure for every shift.
For example, at the start of every shift, Dr. Azah asks every member of the team to set three goals for themselves: a career-oriented goal, an educational goal and a wellness goal. She lists the goals and checks in on residents throughout the shift, encouraging them to achieve. Her peers say that Dr. Azah’s leadership creates a team that is regularly in high spirits, prioritizes education and cares exceptionally well for patients.
Dr. Azah’s abilities as a collaborator are exceptional. One night, when an ICU provider did not agree that her patient required transfer to a higher level of care, Dr. Azah developed a collaborative plan for intervention and regular follow-up. She tactfully resolved conflicting opinions, which led to substantial improvements for the patient, demonstrating how professional collaboration achieves ideal patient outcomes.
An emerging scholar
Dr. Azah is also quickly establishing herself as a scholar. She has presented posters at multiple national meetings, including the ACP National Meeting and the American College of Gastroenterology; published five papers; and authored a blog and published a paper on how junior Navy officers can enhance their professional development and seek out unique opportunities. She was also invited to speak on a podcast about “Finding Wisdom in Failure and Faith in the Uncertain.”
Throughout an unusual career trajectory, Dr. Azah has influenced the training of thousands of residents across the United States. With the heart of a servant leader, she is a role model and consummate professional in all that she does.