Leah Heindel, MD
University of Washington School of Medicine. Leah was born in Oakland but soon moved up the coast to the maritime town of Gig Harbor in Western Washington. She attended Seattle Pacific University, where she majored in Biology and spent time abroad studying public health in central Uganda. Towards the end of college, Leah first fell in love with family medicine when she encountered family doctors using community medicine as a tool for social justice at a Chicago FQHC. Interested in learning to better support the un- or under-insured patients in her community, she worked as a scribe at a safety-net clinic near her hometown before attending medical school at the University of Washington.
There, she participated in the Underserved Pathway Scholars program and directed a free clinic serving Seattle’s East African community. Inspired by the role of mentorship in her own pathway to medicine, she also led a pipeline program for first-generation and BIPOC high school students and was selected to participate in the AAFP’s Emerging Leaders Institute for this work. Experiences with the stigmatization of patients with substance use disorders and work with unhoused populations in Seattle developed Leah’s interests in harm reduction and improving addiction medicine care. She is thrilled to be joining the field of family medicine, which she loves for its championing of whole-person, community-situated health with an emphasis on health justice. Outside of medicine, you can find Leah in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or cooking for friends, escaping to hiking trails, drinking lots of coffee with her partner, or snuggling with her perfect orange tabby cat, Wally.