My teaching approach is most closely aligned with this quote from William Butler Yeats “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” My major focus in teaching is to promote excellence in patient/family-centered care and evidence-based practice. I try to expand students’ horizons and inspire them to include leadership, health advocacy, knowledge development, professional writing, presenting and lifelong learning among their career goals.
Simply put, as an educator, my role is to empower others to achieve success by helping them realize their fullest potential, by removing barriers from their path to achievement, and by giving them the tools for lifelong accomplishment. Towards that objective, I focus my energy on three synergistic sets of professional goals: to conduct innovative research at the intersection of obesity and cancer prevention; to develop, evaluate, implement, and promote programs and policies to improve public health; and to improve the training, productivity, and work life of those in academia.
Those who can should teach, and those who teach should do it well. We must set high standards, get learners to own them, hold them accountable, and then refine and reset goals. My proudest achievement has been (as Program Director) to transform the dermatology residency at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas into one of the best (if not the best) training program of its kind. Most of our graduates have become leaders in research and education within academic units and/or experts in community practices. Also I started the Dermatology Teachers Exchange Group (DTEG) that has been a wellspring for innovative ideas and studies in dermatologic education. My commitment to teaching can be summed as: to inform always, to challenge frequently, and most importantly to inspire. George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, and Robert Frost is credited with the quote “When talent and passion converge, expect a masterpiece”. Using their advice, let us distill the essence of history to better succeeding generations and through mentorship catalyze making those masterpieces.
I teach for two reasons: First, to honor those who dedicated the time and effort to teach me and my generation and second, to incite and enhance enthusiasm for life-long education in those whom I teach and mentor. Future advances will be based on the foundation we build for our trainees and students now.
It is an honor and a privilege to be a Plastic Surgeon, which is evident throughout my practice. Through mentoring and educational guidance, I gain complete satisfaction believing that I have assisted with adding value to the future careers of aspiring plastic surgeons. I love what I do, and if patient's lives are made better through my work and future leaders are created resulting from my professional leadership, my work is complete!
“When I made the decision to leave a successful private practice and join academic medicine among the UT Health Science Center faculty, the parents of many of my patients gave me the same parting advice. “Doc, teach the students to listen to their patients.” “Doc, make sure that they care, just like you do.” It was from these comments that I realized my mission as an educator would be not only to ensure that my students become competent through their knowledge base, but also to help them develop compassionate attitudes and dedication to patient care.”
I am most proud when I see I can make a positive difference in someone’s academic career and can look back and see the amazing accomplishments of those whom I have mentored. I truly believe the future of biomedical science is in the hands of the students we teach and mentor toward careers as scientists and physicians. While in research we are only as good as our last experiment, the students we mentor and their future students is a legacy that will endure.
The School of Nursing is positioned to be responsive to a fast-changing healthcare environment, and we are working to offer a seamless academic progression for nursing students to raise their level of education and to increase the number of nurses who are doctorally prepared. The school’s research enterprise continues to model collaboration and innovation, while also mentoring junior nurse scientists. As we take note of our successes, we also are committed to raising the university’s profile and enhancing philanthropic giving so that we can achieve our vision – delivering innovative solutions that will create the best hope for a healthier future.