The Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) medical honor society is a professional medical organization that recognizes and advocates for excellence in scholarship and the highest ideals in the profession of medicine. Founded in 1902, it’s the only national honor medical society in the world. One of its newest members is Madison’s Dr. Patricia Téllez-Girón, an associate professor at UW Family Medicine Department and a longtime advocate for health and health education in Dane County’s Latinx community.
“When I heard that I was being considered for the nomination, I thought to myself, ‘Even to be considered is really an honor.’ But when I heard that I got it, I was so excited,” Téllez-Girón tells Madison365. “It is nice to be recognized.”
The Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA) medical honor society has a mission “to recognize and enhance professionalism, academic excellence, service, and leadership within the profession of medicine.”
“From what I understand, it’s a very selective society. It’s a very long process. The chair has to nominate somebody with a nomination letter stating why they believe a person deserves the award based upon the principles of the society,” Téllez-Girón says. “After it goes through a review panel, they have to find you worthy of being in society.”
Téllez-Girón’s clinical practice is at the Access Community Health Centers Wingra Family Medical Center on Madison’s south side where more than 90 percent of her patients speak only Spanish. She is also the chair of the Latino Health Council in Madison and the medical director and main presenter of a monthly health education program on La Movida 1480AM, a 24/7 Spanish radio station in Madison.
Raised in Mexico City, Dr. Tellez-Giron received her medical degree, with honors, at the National University of Mexico (UNAM). She moved to the United States in 1993 to be with her family and to continue her education, and ever since has been working very actively with the Latinx community of Madison.
“I really love working with the community. I really love my patients,” she says. “But I also love to be in the community advocating for better services, to be on the radio station with health education, give them resources to live healthier lives … especially now with COVID. For 18 and over, right now, we have a 91 percent vaccination rate in the Latinx community. To see that our efforts are working and helping people to have a better life, that is so fulfilling.”
Téllez-Girón has won numerous awards over the years including the UW Family Medicine Department Mark Hansen, MD Lectureship Award, the UW Madison Outstanding Women of Color Award, the City-County Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, the UW Faculty and Staff Equity and Diversity Award, among others. In 2020, she was honored by Time Magazine for her efforts in the Latinx community in Dane County.
“Most of my awards – you know me, I’m very humble – I like because they increase the visibility of my [Latinx] community,” Téllez-Girón says. “I want people to see that we are here to do good things, not the bad things that some people think. And winning awards is something I can use for leverage when we need resources in our community.”
Téllez-Girón says she will soon be receiving another award: the Superhero Award for Medicine from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation.
“This is also a very competitive award because it is statewide and I believe that they give it to one person once a year,” Téllez-Girón says. “It’s about service and going beyond the clinic and serving the community that is in need.”
That particular award comes with a $2,000 prize for any organization in the community that the honoree chooses. Tellez-Giron says her money will go towards the Latino Health Council.
For her induction into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) medical honor society, Téllez-Girón will be celebrated alongside with other 2022 inductees at the Carson Gulley Center on the UW campus on Wednesday, April 6.
“I am really honored to receive this award. I really enjoy working for my community and will keep on doing that and if I’m recognized that is great. If I’m not, that’s OK, too,” Téllez-Girón says. “Every time my patients say ‘blessings’ that just makes my day …. They make my day.”