Made in the 956: Total ankle replacement procedure comes to the Valley

2 months 1 week 4 days ago Tuesday, July 18 2023 Jul 18, 2023 July 18, 2023 2:34 PM July 18, 2023 in News - Local

A Valley native is serving the community she grew up in by practicing medicine.

She's making waves in her field by bringing new, innovative procedures to the Valley. 

"It hadn't been done down here yet, and it's the standard of care. It's become the standard of care in foot and ankle orthopedics elsewhere, and all over the nation. So it's important to bring that standard of care down here," Dr. Jennifer Walt said.

Dr. Walt is an orthopedic surgeon with UT Health Rio Grande Valley, and that standard of care she's talking about is a total ankle replacement. Prior to her doing it, it hadn't been done in the Valley before.

"Right now patients are traveling four hours to go get care or sometimes six hours in San Antonio or Houston. I think it's important...to bring innovation here for all our patients."

It's not just for patients. 

"As well as to get students excited, you know. It's kinda what made me excited about medicine," Dr. Walt said.

An excitement that, for this Weslaco native, started with her family. 

"I always wanted to do veterinary medicine. I went to A&M, but I changed my mind in college. I was shadowing...my three brothers, [who] are also doctors, so I saw their training and I saw all they got to do. I shadowed my brother, Dr. Michael Sander, and just fell in love with it," Dr. Walt said.

Dr. Walt now practices medicine in the place that she grew up. 

"You know helping the community, the ability, the impact on patients is amazing," Dr. Walt said.

Despite where her schooling took her, Dr. Walt always knew she wanted to come back to the Valley. 

"You go around, you travel everywhere, but in the end you want to bring everything you've learned back to the community and I got the opportunity to do so," Dr. Walt said.

Dr. Walt is also using her practice as an inspiration for the next generation of Valley doctors. 

"For people in general, it's important to pursue what you love. Medicine, at its core, is helping people and being empathetic toward patients. I think we tend to forget it with all the school, the testing, the politics," Dr. Walt said. "If we get our community excited about medicine and about wanting to stay, students will go out and train and hopefully come back as well. And along the way, if you work hard are nice to people and respect people you'll go far and have no regrets."

Dr. Jennifer Walt, Made in the 956.

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