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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Tammie Bassford, M.D.

Picture of Tammie Bassford
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Tammie Bassford, M.D.

“I enjoy family medicine. You are at the intersection of science, medicine, and families and there is a real excitement in caring for a person. I wanted to be a doctor since I was in the second grade. I owe a lot to my parents for listening to me and caring about what I said way back then, and then encouraging me.”


Raul Grijalva



Growing up in Reading, Pennsylvania in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Tammie Bassford remembers the traditional family doctor as someone with an office just down the street who provided medical care for families in the neighborhood. The old-style family doctor with a shingle outside a building attached to his or her home is long gone, but the impact a caring family physician can exert on a community continues to inspire Bassford.

Combining careers in family medicine, medical education, and research, Tamsen Bassford is Department Head for Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the first female to lead a department in the College of Medicine there. She is a visible and dedicated presence at the university where she helped bring the Women's Health and Resource Center a designation as a National Center of Excellence, and where her work as director of the Arizona site of the Women's Health Initiative has been instrumental in recruiting Hispanic and Native American women into the landmark study of preventive intervention in postmenopausal women.

She has also built a sterling reputation as a mentor for medical students at the university. Considered a wonderful teacher, the former associate Dean of Student Affairs, has garnered excellence in teaching awards and was awarded the Humanism in Medicine Award by a recent graduating class.

Nominated by Rep Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-7), Tammie Bassford's empathy and care have drawn her to women's health, Hispanic health, and cancer prevention with many of her research programs funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But family medicine remains a big part of Tammie Bassford's life

"Family medicine is really a wonderful place to be," Bassford said. "It is at the intersection of science, medicine, and caring for people-your patients." Tammie Bassford's conversation always steers back to her concern for the patient. While in medical school she made a somewhat unorthodox decision. She dropped out for 6 months and went to work as a volunteer at a hospice for terminal cancer patients. "In so many ways it made me who I am today. A hospice teaches you how to assume a responsive style of addressing pain in people. In medicine that responsive style is how I seek to treat my patients."

She continues her work in cancer prevention among minority and underserved women and established the Mensajeras de Salud program that helps increase breast and cervical cancer screening for Hispanic women. In additional she is a member of the University of Arizona GRACE Project which studied disparities in salary, assignments, and promotions between male and female faculty in the College of Medicine.



Appointed Chief Resident, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson


Appointed Associate Dean for Student Affairs, University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson


Appointed Department Head, Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson




University of Southern California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine


Family Medicine

Sub Specialty

Medical Education