February 14: Arieal Felix, MD
Dr. Arieal Felix is an exemplary leader who is devoted to leaving a positive impact on the patients she cares for. Her life experiences shaped her passion for serving underserved populations and continue to be a driving force in her mission to provide high-quality, patient-centered care as a physician at Cherokee Health Systems (CHS). The adversity she overcame growing up not only cultivated immense purpose in her pursuit to care for others, but it also motivates people around her to persevere through life’s trials. Her story of resilience began in Louisiana.
Dr. Felix was born and raised in New Orleans. The trajectory of her life plans changed after Hurricane Katrina hit when she was 16 years old. The destructive storm left her family stranded in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center without food, water, shelter, or hope for seven long days. After that, she knew that she was not going to be just a survivor in life, but she was going to be a thriving human being in this world. Dr. Felix finished high school, graduated with honors from Southeastern Louisiana University, and attended medical school at Meharry Medical College (MMC) in Nashville, TN. Coming from an underserved background, she gravitated toward serving the underserved as a medical student and choose family medicine as a specialty. After all, MMC’s motto is: “Worship of God through service to mankind.” While at MMC, she received the honor of being inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and was named the 2017 Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians Outstanding Student of the Year.
Dr. Felix’s next greatest achievement was the birth of her healthy baby girl. She became a mom while she was a resident at Florida State University in Fort Myers, FL. Her life has not been the same since. Becoming a new physician and a new mother transformed her into a more empathetic person and physician. It was during this time that advocacy became one of her biggest passions. Dr. Felix was honored with the AFMRD Family Medicine Residency Award for Advocacy in 2019. As she looked toward the future, she realized that working in underserved medicine was the place for her.
In late 2020, Dr. Felix joined CHS as a family medicine physician. She currently works at CHS’ Alcoa Health Center, which holds historical significance within the community. The building that currently houses the health center was formerly known as the Charles M. Hall School. The legacy of the historically Black school is still honored throughout the Alcoa community to this day. Carrying forth its rich history, Dr. Felix spends each day looking to bring about positive change within the organization and to her patients’ lives.
Dr. Felix has been given a lot of advice throughout her life. The one piece of advice she holds near to her heart comes from her grandfather, a World War II veteran. He once told her, “Whatever you do, be good at it.” Dr. Felix carries those words with her into every patient room as she knows she is privileged to witness and become a part of the tears and laughter of life.