Building Relationships in the Community

By Robert S. Benchley

Building Relationships in the Community

By Robert S. Benchley
Medical School graduate Stephanie Ioannou wants to incorporate teaching and mentoring into her medical career.

Stephanie IoannouStephanie Ioannou knew from an early age that she wanted to be a physician. That goal helped keep her centered as her father, a hotelier, moved the family numerous times during her childhood. 

“I was born in Miami, but I attended eight schools between kindergarten and 12th grade,” said Ioannou. “We finally moved to Broward when I was entering high school, and I have lived in South Florida ever since.” 

In addition to the family moves, her father spent years fighting cancer and he was in and out of hospitals during the ordeal. With the help of skilled doctors, he eventually beat the disease, and witnessing the quality of his care only strengthened Ioannou’s resolve to become a physician herself. 

“They inspired me,” she said. “I wanted to impact individuals and families the way that my father’s physicians impacted my family. To this day, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.” 

Ioannou’s chance to start down that path came as a University of Miami sophomore majoring in biology, with minors in chemistry and psychology, when she was accepted into the Medical Scholars Program — an early medical school acceptance that enables students to earn B.S. and M.D. degrees in just seven years. 

“I couldn’t wait to start medical school,” she said. “I was excited by the Miller School’s diverse patient population, small-group learning environments, and vast opportunities for community service and leadership.” 

Ioannou has excelled academically, but it is through volunteer activities that she has really made a name for herself. She joined the Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (DOCS), becoming co-director in her third year and executive director in her fourth year. She is proud that she has never missed a single DOCS health fair — the large-scale student-run clinics held in underserved communities. She has also volunteered for three Nicaragua Medical Missions. 

“It is extremely rewarding to build relationships with members of the community year after year,” she said. “Our goal is to provide patient education and to connect patients who otherwise have no, or very little, access to medical care through community health services.” 

Ioannou has also served as a clinical skills trainer for first- and second-year Miller School students, and a member of the school’s Admissions Committee and the American Medical Women’s Association, and she has engaged in research projects within the Divisions of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She received UM’s ultimate recognition this spring when she was tapped for membership in the Iron Arrow Honor Society. 

Following graduation, she heads off — but only as far as Jackson Memorial Hospital — for a residency in internal medicine. 

“After my residency, I would like to pursue a fellowship in gastroenterology,” she said. “I ultimately want to practice in a large academic setting and incorporate teaching and mentoring into my career.”

In her spare time Ioannou enjoys being with family and friends, reading, traveling, cooking, practicing yoga and dancing salsa.

“Stephanie is one of our star leaders,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education, senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education and professor of medicine. “She embodies everything we hope for in a Miller School student—highly competent, compassionate, and caring, with a keen interest in serving our community.”