Kamakki Banks, M.D.
When UT Southwestern Medical Center general cardiologist Kami Banks, M.D., sees a patient, she looks beyond a person’s heart disease. She knows she’s treating much more than just the person in front of her.
“When I talk to someone, I keep in mind that this individual is part of a family, and that family is part of a community,” she says. “If I have a patient who has end-stage heart failure, for example, I’m concerned not only about that patient – I’m also concerned about that person’s children and spouse.”
Dr. Banks has a special interest in preventing heart disease, especially in women, exercise enthusiasts, and those with early heart failure who want to stay active as well as stay healthy.
To do that, she says, requires a good doctor-patient relationship. “When you come into my office, we will spend a lot of time talking about you, but we will also talk about your life and your family – whether you have children, if you are married, the work that you do. All these things come into play.”
Before she became a physician, Dr. Banks was a public health researcher focused on high blood pressure and heart disease. She performed most of her research in communities and decided through those interactions that she wanted to play a more direct role in people’s health.
She says that when physicians recognize that each patient they see is only one part of a larger puzzle, they can take better care of that patient. “Sometimes we are working with an illness that is inheritable, but sometimes what’s inherited are the behaviors that contribute to illness.”
That understanding has helped Dr. Banks forge her care philosophy: She doesn’t just treat heart disease. She treats the whole person and cares for all her patients as if they were a part of her family.
“The most important thing to me is that my patients know that I will treat them like family,” she says. “I will care for them as if they were my mother, brother, or son.”