I recently co-hosted our fellows’ graduation ceremony. My script indicated the name of a physician winning the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO) award. I was completely stunned when, in reality, I had been given an “altered” script so that I would be surprised when my name was announced as the winner. This award is very special, as it is chosen by the Clinical Fellows in recognition of excellence in teaching with emphasis on undergraduate medical education.
The proudest moments from my career come from observing young entering students begin medical school with wide-eyed anticipation and fear, and transform four years later into mature, compassionate physicians. It is a privilege to help in this transformation and a pure joy to see the results.
One of the most satisfying moments of my career was the creation of the Master of Science in Clinical Investigation Degree Program. This was the first non-departmentally based graduate program at our Health Science Center and laid the groundwork for interdisciplinary research education and translational science training. It has been thrilling to work with my colleagues in other UT System components to help define the discipline of Translational Science and create an academic home for this emerging field.
On several occasions, I have been chosen by the senior class to act as one of four faculty hooders — the faculty members who place the ceremonial hood on the graduating students to signify their attainment of the M.D. degree. For me, this ceremony is always particularly uplifting in that it represents the culmination of the academic journey the students began four years previously when they first enrolled in the Gross Anatomy course in which I teach.
A very proud personal moment in my career was being named in 1984 as the first surgeon in the United States to be selected (by peer-review) as recipient of an NIH/NCI KO8 Clinician-Investigator Award.
Having taught every medical student who has attended the UT Medical School at Houston and every graduate student in my discipline at the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston makes me very proud.
One of the things I love about teaching is the pride I experience. To be a small part of the creation of our next generation of physicians is reward enough, but experiencing the intellectual horsepower, diligent work ethic, and compassionate approach to patient care that is embodied by the current generation of medical students is quite exhilarating. To be recognized as a positive influence or role model by these students takes my breath away each time.
In 1992, I received my first Presidential Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching. As I went to accept the award, one of the classes that nominated for the award stood up and gave me a standing ovation. I remember turning red from their enthusiasm.