Dr. Ana Coll, Chief of Pediatric Cardiology UCSF FresnoSep 27, 2018 11:00AM ● By Enjoy Magazine
Healing Broken Hearts
Story by Natalie Caudle
Photo courtesy of Dr. Ana Coll
BORN IN CARACAS, Venezuela, a city considered to be one of the most important cultural centers of Latin America, Dr. Ana Coll was raised in a family where dreams were encouraged and tenacity was not only modeled, but expected. A child of a factory worker-turned-owner, Coll would play make-believe with her siblings, imagining herself a doctor; caring and tending for the pretend ill and wounded. Coll settled on the dream of medicine at a young age and never deviated from its course, despite the naysayers and uphill battles. When Coll was 14, her father suffered a heart attack, cementing Coll’s passion for cardiology and pushing her down the medical path with fortitude.
In 1994, with a medical degree in hand, Coll moved to the United States for specialized training at UCLA. Unable to speak English fluently, Coll encountered many hurdles and hardships, but relentlessly pursued her dream. She later moved to Miami to complete her pediatric residency, and in 2002, she finished her medical studies in pediatric cardiology at Stanford University, the first woman to ever complete the program. There were many instances where Coll faced challenges and untrue assumptions, given her background and gender. Despite the opposition, she refused to quit. Coll remembers her father saying, “Keep going. Things happen for a reason. Nothing lasts forever.
Make a plan and keep going.” When Coll was underestimated by peers and colleagues, or told she wasn’t smart enough, she would remind herself, “If I quit, they’re right.” She knew quitting wasn’t an option, braved the difficult trail and never gave up.
Originally settling in the Central Valley to practice medicine in an underserved area, Coll quickly established roots and found herself at home. She’s now the chief of cardiology at UCSF Fresno and finds great satisfaction in serving the people and communities of this region. The smiles and hugs from patients are what Coll finds most rewarding in her career. As a mother of two teenage boys and the wife of a pediatric gastroenterologist, Coll has sought to find and maintain balance in the many facets of life. Knowing the expectations accompanied by career advancement, Coll weighed the options and made the difficult decision to sacrifice furthering her career in order to be present with her family. Coll has arranged her workday to accommodate her sons’ schedules and participate in their activities and interests. She recognizes the fleeting moments of life and says she doesn’t regret a minute. “Those years are not coming back. In the end, it’s your family that matters, the people you share life with,” she says. Her commitment to family does not deter Coll from giving her patients the attention and care that each requires.
Coll’s warm and cheerful bedside manner are hallmarks of her character, but it is her hidden streak of neon-colored hair that gives people a peek at her feisty personality. Undeterred by cynics, Coll has never strayed from her goals and finds fulfillment in each day. As a woman of strength who has forged a path in her field in the struggle for equality, Coll is leaving a lasting mark in our community and changing lives as she skillfully heals broken hearts. •