Introducing the Alumni and Student Spotlight feature! We are very proud of our Alumni and Students at UT Health Science Center – you are making lives better in our communities every day.
We want to tell your stories and celebrate your successes while also introducing you to some of the next generation of health care leaders. We hope you enjoy reading about Alumni and Students who are making a difference for UT Health Science Center on campus and in their communities.
Where did you complete your residency? When did you complete your residency? What is your specialty?
General surgery residency 2004-2010 • UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Surgical Critical Care Fellowship 2010-2011 • UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Specialty: Trauma Surgery, Surgical Critical Care
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
I was given the opportunity as a young faculty member to lead the Pediatric Trauma and Burn Program. The goal as the Trauma Medical Director was to become a Level I Pediatric Trauma Program verified by the American College of Surgeons. Until now, Pediatric Trauma Programs were led by Pediatric Surgeons rather than Trauma Surgeons. In August 2016, our program became the first Pediatric Trauma Program in the country verified by the ACS that is led by Trauma Surgeons. We also became the only Pediatric Level I program in San Antonio and South Texas. This verification is the work of many people on the trauma team and I am honored to be a part of it.
What was the most valuable lesson – inside or outside the classroom – you learned at the Health Science Center?
The most valuable lesson or tool I learned as a medical student at the health science center was how to collaborate with others. Our school fostered an environment of collaboration and sharing of information. Whether it was studying for the microbiology test or applying for residency, our class had the motto of “all for one and one for all.” Learning this skill early on in my training proved to be one of the most valuable assets as a Trauma Surgeon who has to work with multiple sub-specialists, nursing staff, and pre-hospital personnel in order to provide optimal care for the critically injured patients.
What was your most rewarding experience at the Health Science Center?
There are so many experiences to recount, but perhaps the most rewarding was helping with the delivery of a baby on the Obstetrics service on my own birthday.
What do you remember most vividly about your time at the Health Science Center?
From meeting our first patient [our cadaver in anatomy] to Dr. Keaton’s lecture comparing beer and urine, from the first time I visited our “elder professors” in a skilled nursing facility to Match Day 2004, the beauty of staying on as faculty at the school that trained you is that every day there are reminders of times gone by.
What advice do you have for current students?
Find a specialty you love on the best day and the worst day because medicine is a career, not just a 9-5 job.
Why do you give back to the Health Science Center?
It is the “Pay-it-forward” attitude my predecessors/mentors instilled in me as a young resident/faculty. I have a unique perspective of the process from being a student to an intern, from being a resident to a junior faculty. I myself have been the beneficiary of those who came before me, providing guidance and perspective. It is only right to give back.
As a School of Medicine student, which specialty interests you most?
What inspired you to want to become a doctor?
When I was nine years old, I was in a rockslide that resulted in the partial amputation of my foot. I was very fortunate to have a healthcare team who cared about me as a whole and provided me with phenomenal medical care. Their efforts and team-based approach to my care inspired my desire to help others and create these special bonds with my colleagues and patients. I believe that I can provide insight and a heightened level of empathy to people who may be going through the most difficult times of their lives. I want my future patients to feel as safe as I did when I was nine years old.
What has been the most valuable lesson – inside or outside the classroom – you have learned at the UT Health Science Center?
Learning opportunities are infinite and so are your potential teachers. Whether it is the scrub tech who sneaks you sutures so you can move on from using your scrub strings to practice the knots that the first year OB/GYN resident taught you. Or the endocrine fellow who shares your workroom, happens to overhear you quizzing yourself, and takes the time to teach you about Sheehan's. It could be the patient who never lets you forget how to treat Pyelo in pregnancy because you stood by her side as she delivered her first child, stillborn. Medicine is a constant teacher and I've learned to keep my eyes and ears open, stay humble, and absorb all that I can.
What has been your most rewarding experience at the Health Science Center thus far?
My most rewarding experience as a Health Science Center student was serving as the co-lead of Team Ethiopia Outreach. We travelled into the community of Aleta Wondo, Ethiopia to screen, treat, and council on the prevention of rare diseases. We also held Pediatric clinics, provided menstrual hygiene course, and collaborated with the local women's group in the hopes of keeping young girls in school while on their menses. The trip provided an opportunity to integrate medical knowledge, community outreach, while gaining understanding of a new culture. The relationships that we built with the community left a lasting impression and continuously shape how I approach medicine.
What advice do you have for incoming students?
My best advice may seem cliché, but you have to make time for yourself while you are in school. The road is difficult and it feels long but the time will pass by in a flash. You want to look back and have positive experiences. Play Powder Puff, attend First Friday every once in a while, or head to Austin on a free weekend. It will be worth it in the end.
How do you intend to give back and pay it forward for future students?
I plan to give back to the Health Science Center by being available as mentor to students. I want to lend a hand in developing and guiding the next generation of physicians. I would also plan to stay active in the Health Science Center’s diversity and inclusion efforts. We are currently on the right path and I am excited to see where we go.