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She was raised in New Mexico, and is half Navajo (her mother is Caucasian and her father was Navajo).  English was the first language spoken in her home.  After studying medicine at Stanford University, she returned to her Navajo reservation in New Mexico only to learn that, despite her technical skills in medicine being integral to saving the patient, simple "fixing" of the problem was not sufficient to fully cure a patient. Incorporating the psychological and spiritual aspect of healing was important as well. This led to her new way of approaching medicine that look into a patient's past environments, relationships, and making sure the hospital is designed in such a way to include artwork and nature. In her mind, "Beauty is so important—artwork on the walls, gardens, outdoor porches with a view. A hospital should also have the right smells, the right foods, the right sounds, the things in life that soothe us. We should also avoid the things that are wrong, that cause stress—no harsh sounds, no bright lights, no invasive overhead paging." She has written a book on her experiences, entitled The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
- "Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord". National Library of Medicine. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
- "Lori Alvord, MD". University of Arizona Health Network. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
- "Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord Endorsed as a Candidate for United States Surgeon General". University of Arizona Health Network. Retrieved April 14, 2014.