Pulse Magazine Winter 03 Issue
In this issue...
A career in medicine is a fulfilling, albeit challenging, experience. Patients demand
constant attention, and work often isn't something that can be left at the office.
It is easy to overlook the fact that medical professionals have interests outside
of the office that reflect their diverse personalities and ideals.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center alumni are proof that medical professionals
can achieve great things not only on a professional level, but on a personal one as
well. The message these individuals convey through their desire to step beyond their
roles as medical professionals is simple: Some very great rewards in life can come
to those who experience life beyond medicine.
Ellen Clark, M.D.
During the aftermath of the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center graduate and forensic pathologist Ellen Clark, M.D., served
with the team Physicians for Human Rights. In this capacity, she conducted autopsies
and examinations on bodies recovered from mass gravesites in the area formerly known
The information gathered by the team was used in war crime trials that brought attention
to that region in the 1990s. Ultimately, the team's work helped to avenge many of
the war's victims and is considered a significant part of this chapter in history.
According to Clark, the information gathered was vital; however, that was not the
most important aspect of the service.
"I felt that the most important humanitarian service was in providing grieving families
with positive identifications and details about lost loved ones," she said.
Clark graduated from TTUHSC in 1984 and said she enjoyed her education. "I am convinced
that I was provided with a wonderful education and the demands to meet the demands
of my profession," she said.
Clark currently serves as a forensic pathologist for the Washoe County coroner in
Reno, Nev., and revealed in the Reno-Gazette Journal that when she decided to specialize
in forensic pathology, her mentors said she was crazy because she would only be working
with dead people. However, Clark said that is completely untrue.
"I work with some of the most fascinating, living people with diverse backgrounds,"
As a forensic pathologist, Clark has a crucial role on an investigative team, but
that is not the most important role in her life. Clark has been married for 25 years
and enjoys the antics of their three sons, herd of cattle, seven horses, three cats
and three dogs.
Carmen Garza, M.D.
When Carmen Garza, M.D., graduated from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
in 1985, she had no idea she would embark on a nonmedical adventure in Brazil. Garza
and her husband, Henrique Levcovitz, M.D., lived on a chocolate plantation from 1991
to 1994 in Ileus, Bahia, a town in a northern state in Brazil.
According to Garza, this region is known for its rich history and chocolate plantations
that have existed for more than 200 years. During her first drive on the outskirts
of Ileus, Garza remembered passing through a cluster of trees wondering when she and
her husband would come to the chocolate trees.
"I never realized these very trees were the cacao trees that are the origin of my
favorite chocolate candy bar," she said.
On the chocolate plantation, Garza worked alongside the people whom she admired because
of their strong "mañana," or sense of living. In addition to this, she worked in a
missionary clinic treating illnesses, like leprosy and hookworm infestation, that
she only saw in a textbook as a second-year medical student.
According to Garza, working in this clinic taught her to have appreciation for her
patients, and in return, her patients always made an effort to pay.
"People who had poor means would cook you a cake or invite you to Sunday lunch," she
said. "Once, we even received a live chicken as a token of appreciation."
Today, Garza and her husband live in San Antonio with their two sons. She is also
a pediatrician at Medical Center Pediatrics.
"I believe that I am lucky to be a pediatrician because I can be a child everyday
at work with the children," Garza said.
Tim Howell, R.N., M.S.N.
As the vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at University
Medical Center and a commander in the Naval Reserves, Tim Howell, a 1999 Texas Tech
University Health Sciences Center graduate, knows all about service.
Howell joined the Naval Reserves because he was brought up to value military service.
Many of his uncles and his father were in the Navy during World War II. Howell also
said his father raised him with the understanding that many people sacrificed a great
deal to protect his personal freedoms.
"I believe that if I am able to have even some small part to protect our freedoms,
then I should take that opportunity, regardless of personal convenience or cost,"
In March 2002, Howell received the Naval and Marine Corps Commendation Medal. He was
honored for his work as an officer in charge of a two-week exercise that involved
the detachment of 100 Fleet Hospital Dallas personnel to care for 3,000 Marines in
a desert environment.
Howell was drawn to medicine because he is a service-oriented person and likes to
be helpful. While at UMC, he has improved patient satisfaction and decreased the length
of stay and cost of care for patients. In 1999, Howell received UMC's Lead By Example
Award for his work in patient care.
In spite of all this, Howell said his greatest achievement was riding a bicycle across
the U.S. while in high school.
Gary Mangold, M.D.
The view from atop Pike's Peak was so breathtaking that it inspired Katherine Lee
Bates to compose the lyrics to the song "America the Beautiful." Since that time,
millions of people have experienced the view firsthand; however, few have had the
opportunity to experience Pike's Peak like Gary Mangold, M.D.
Mangold, a 1976 graduate of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of
Medicine, has run the Pike's Peak Ascent seven times since 1984. Pike's Peak Ascent
is a 14,110-foot trail that leads to the top of the mountain, and Mangold said that
the ascent is a treacherous trail and climbing it is one of the most difficult things
he has done.
"The weather changes are very dramatic and sometimes dangerous, and the altitude's
effect on one's body can be very scary," he said. "However, the feeling of accomplishment
you get when you reach the top is indescribable."
Like his adventures with Pike's Peak, Mangold's career has been both challenging and
satisfying. In 1979, Mangold joined his father in practice in Lockney, and for eight
years they were the only two doctors in the area. "My father passed in 1992, so I
had 13 years to practice at his side," he said. "I would not trade that learning and
growing experience for anything."
The Lockney native became a physician because he wanted to follow in his father's
footsteps. He currently performs surgery and practices obstetrics in the hospital
in which his father delivered him. "I have known since I was 6 years old what I wanted
to be; I wanted to be like my dad," he said. "He built a very special clinic and hospital
through plain old hard work, dedication and caring."
However, Mangold is not just a physician and marathon runner, he also restores cars.
He said most of the cars that he works on have always been in his family, including
his first car, a 1962 Ford Falcon Futura. He also said although his cars are not especially
valuable, they all mean something to him. "I really enjoy getting out and working
on them when I have the time," he said. "That is good relaxation and a good challenge."
Mangold believes that his greatest achievement to date has been his 28-year marriage
and raising his three daughters. He also said he has enjoyed his career in Lockney.
"I truly believe West Texas people are the finest people around," Mangold said.
Chris Soares, M.D.
You might call Chris Soares, M.D., a master of balance - but not just because he loves
exploring the country on two wheels. Soares, a long-time cross-country bike riding
enthusiast, prides himself on his ability to balance spending time with his family,
devoting time to his career in ophthalmology and riding close to 4,000 miles on his
bike each year.
A 1988 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine graduate, Soares
lives and practices pediatric and general ophthalmology in a rural Vermont town. Practicing
medicine in a small town is a dream Soares first had in high school. "I envisioned
becoming a country doctor in a rural setting," Soares said. "I wanted a chance for
me to get to know my patients and for them to know me."
And as if cross-country biking and a practice in which he sees more than 3,000 patients
each year weren't enough, Soares also serves as an assistant professor of ophthalmology
for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. He teaches both Dartmouth and University of
Vermont medical students during two-week clinical rotations through his clinic.
Some of the most beautiful vistas in North America have provided the backdrop for
Soares' biking adventures. His first bike trip took place nearly 20 years ago when
he and his wife Laura traveled 1,750 miles from Glacier National Park in Montana to
the Grand Canyon. "We still have fond memories of how life was on the bike trip,"
Soares said. "Each stroke of the pedals brought us one revolution closer to majestic
Since that excursion, Soares has traveled the Oregon coast, ridden the Washington
state coastline from Canada to the Oregon border, and trekked from the Golden Gate
Bridge in San Francisco to Tijuana, Mexico. For the past two years, Soares also has
competed in the Mt. Washington Bike Race, a 7.6-mile climb up New England's tallest
mountain. "There are few sensations that can rival the feeling of wind blowing through
your hair as you descend a mountain pass after a long, arduous climb," Soares said.
After so many biking accomplishments, physical balance has served Soares well. But
Soares prides himself more on a completely different kind of balance.
"My greatest achievement is being able to balance the things I love most in my life,"
Soares said. His top priority is his wife of nearly 20 years, Laura, and their three
children, Nicholas, Nathaniel and Lauren. Although his career and bicycling are also
very important to him, Soares feels his role as a family man is the most significant
aspect of his life.
Traversing the country on his bike has taught Soares some truly remarkable lessons,
and he uses the knowledge he has gained from his travels each and every day.
"The world is a beautiful place; slow down and take time to see it," he said. "The
destination is important, but the journey is where we live each day."
Ruth Zimmer, M.D.
In 1998, a documentary entitled "A Healing Story" won an Academy Award for best short
documentary. This award winning crew included a 10-member medical team and a documentary
film crew. Among them was Ruth Zimmer, M.D., an anesthesiologist and Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center graduate.
According to Zimmer, the film chronicled a 1997 mission trip with Interplast to the
Mekong Delta where the team treated a total of 160 patients in two cities.
"The main patient in the field is a 16-year-old boy who had a cleft lip repaired,"
she said. "It shows the transformation of his life and is really quite emotional."
The goal of these two-week trips is not only to repair cosmetic and functional birth
and acquired defects in children but to also educate the local physicians on treatment
care and management of these problems.
Zimmer is currently completing a two-year associate fellowship in complementary and
alternative medicine via the Internet. Zimmer said she is astounded at the amount
of CAM being used by the mainstream public.
"I am not a primary care provider," she said. "However, I have found many ways to
include CAM in the care and treatment of my patients."
As if her teaching responsibilities and studies were not enough, Zimmer and her husband,
Robert Neubecker, have two daughters – 3-year-old Isabel Ruth and 3-month-old Josephine
back to top
He is a chancellor and former president of the Health Sciences Center. But many people
may not know that David R. Smith, M.D., is also an avid ice hockey and water polo
player. The School of Pharmacy's CA Bond, Pharm.D., works with colored glass for art
work; physical therapy professor Chad Cook is an avid triathlete and marathoner who
competes in Iron Man contests; the School of Nursing's Kenneth Ketner operates a station
in a Federal Amateur Radio service; the School of Nursing's Assistant Professor Alyce
Ashcraft collects the medical figures of Star Trek; Professor of Physiology Tom Pressley
is a glider pilot; and Pharmacology's Dr. Arthur Freeman races cars. Many of the Health
Sciences Center's faculty and staff have other lives or interests away from the medical
field. These are some of their stories.
She calls them her 45 mile per hour couch potatoes. Carol McPike, secretary for the
department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Health Sciences Center, speaks of her
greyhound dogs with admiration and love as if they were her children. But as you look
closely one may notice that these dogs have not led normal lives. These dogs were
once raced in tracks throughout the United States and Mexico.
McPike and her husband, Steve, lived in Florida when they first went to the race tracks
to see the greyhounds run. "We thought they were the most elegant and wonderful animals,"
said McPike. "We just had no idea of what went on behind the scenes."
The McPikes began to research more about greyhounds out of interest, and found out
the not-so-glamorous side of the breed's lives. "Dogs that are money makers will receive
better treatment. Dogs with poor racing records receive minimal care and can be washed
out of the system and destroyed before the age of 2."
"Many greyhounds receive serious injuries while racing," said McPike. "You have to
remember that these greyhounds are clocked at 45 miles per hour. Some get caught in
the track lure mechanism and others take terrible spills getting broken bones, and
many never receive any medical attention."
Wanting to get involved and help these greyhounds, McPike found out about a program
called The National Adopt a Greyhound Adoption Program. Once the industry has no use
for the greyhounds, this organization steps in with people who adopt the canines,
rescuing them before they are destroyed. According to the American Greyhound Council,
this organization has placed more than 80,000 retired greyhounds that are living in
homes in Canada and the United States. "Ferrari, a senior dog, was the first greyhound
we adopted. She was missing a toe and had numerous scars," said McPike. "Racing had
taken a terrible toll on her body, but not on her spirit. She used to always keep
her blue stuffed monkey with her wherever she went. She had a sweetness to her."
McPike said that although these animals suffer through terrible ordeals, they are
affectionate and friendly dogs. "They are beautiful animals that crave attention and
love to have a warm place to sleep. We have adopted many greyhounds that each had
their own story, some good and some bad. But each one, Ferrari, Annie, Banjo, Clarence
and Chili were all the most loving animals a person could imagine." She added that
it takes compassion and commitment to foster or adopt greyhounds. "They are running
to save their lives, and we give them a second chance to be in a loving environment."
Research to Restoring Cars
On any given day you can find Johannes Evers, Ph.D., professor in the Department of
Cell Biology and Biochemistry, in his laboratory conducting research on sensors for
an artificial pancreas for diabetics. Eversé has been with the Health Sciences Center
since 1976. "I came here just before we moved from Drane Hall into this building in
1976. Our department was the first to move in."
Eversé is a researcher, but when he is not in his laboratory, he may be found restoring
his Kaiser cars. The Kaiser-Frazer cars were first shown to the public at the Waldorf
Astoria Hotel in New York City in 1946. After World War II, there was a demand for
new cars. Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer joined together to manufacture the Kaiser
cars. "They sold like hot cakes at the time," said Eversé. "Unfortunately the Big
3 (Ford, GM and Chrysler) came into the picture aénd started to compete, literally
running them out of business."
The Kaiser-Frazer cars were manufactured from 1946 to 1954. Eversé said there are
a handful of 1955s that are actually 54s that did not sell. "I guess I have a fascination
with these cars because it was the car I learned to drive in back in 1955 when I lived
in Holland," said Eversé. "Most people get attached to their first car."
He came to America in 1960, and many years later in 1987, he and his wife were driving
to St. Louis and saw a Kaiser sitting along a freeway. "We made a U-turn and I ended
up buying it. It didn't have a floor board, but I drove it all the way home to Lubbock."
The second Kaiser he purchased was from a minister in upstate New York. He then drove
it to Ohio, but ran into mechanical problems with the transmission. He had to tow
it the rest of the way to Lubbock.
Eversé restores the cars by first taking them apart piece by piece. "If it is not
welded on I take it apart." This is called a "frame-off" restoration, which includes
a rebuilding of all essential parts, including the engine, transmission, rear end,
steering gear, etc. Each piece is sandblasted, primed and painted before the car is
reassembled. The process is lengthy, but Eversé said the finished product is worth
Now Eversé has a total of five Kaiser-Frazer cars, one 1953, three 1954s, and one
1955 model. Of the 1954 and 1955 two-door models, only 179 and 44 were built, respectively.
Only a dozen of the 1954 models and six of the 1955 models still exist. Eversé has
two 1954 two-door models and one of the 1955 models.
The restoration of the 1953 model is virtually finished, and it can be seen occasionally
at the Health Sciences Center's parking lot. All others are at various stages of completion.
The body of the 1955 model, Eversé's last acquisition, is still sitting on his back
porch as an empty "shell," patiently waiting its turn to be put together again.
His fascination for restoring old and rare cars gets him away from the regular routine,
and will allow him to leave something of his behind when he is gone. "I enjoy mechanical
things," said Eversé. " One Kaiser, the 1954 four-door model, I found in Sacramento,
California in 1990 in a 92-year-old carpenter's back yard where it had been sitting
for 26 years. The engine had a burnt valve, but otherwise it was in remarkably good
shape." Eversé bought it for $200. Most likely, it would have been taken to a junkyard
and crushed. "But this way maybe one day it will end up in a museum for people to
see and enjoy. It makes it worthwhile," Eversé said.
back to top
Although most Americans don't admit it, they tend to take things like indoor plumbing
and access to medical care for granted. But, for much of the world's population, especially
those in developing countries, these and many other every day items would be considered
That's why medical mission trips can be such a godsend to the people of these countries.
These trips give them the chance to have the type of medical care most Americans receive
daily. For them, however, it may only be once a year or even once a lifetime.
"Most of the people we see tell us they've prayed for years for someone to come help
them," said Patti Patterson, M.D., vice president for rural and community health at
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She added that it's not uncommon for
patients to travel great distances to have access to the care provided on the medical
On the trips, the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel provide primary care,
dentistry, eye glasses and prescription medications to the patients they see, often
in school rooms divided into examination areas. Patterson said in some countries medical
personnel have simply had to set up clinics beneath trees because no facilities existed
to house the clinic.
Patterson, who has gone on more than 20 medical mission trips and recently returned
from El Salvador, said it can be fascinating to see the experiences of people who
are on their first medical mission.
"It helps you see the experiences through new eyes," she said. "One of the things
I love to do is take high school or college students on the trips because it completely
changes their world view. It shows them that middle-class America is not reality for
most of the world."
Watching current nursing students interact with patients was a fascinating part of
the mission trip, said Susan Andersen, R.N., an associate professor in the School
of Nursing who went on her first trip to Guyana in March.
"One of the best things the students learned is that people are the same everywhere,"
she said. "They have the same basic needs and desires, the settings are just different.
Everybody wants their children to grow up healthy and safe and become productive members
of society. We all need food, shelter and care when we're sick. That's important for
the students to learn."
Andersen admitted that while she's used to seeing discrepancies in the availability
of health care, going to Guyana gave her a new appreciation for the true accessibility
of care in the United States.
"I work with underserved people all the time so I never take health care for granted,
but when you see people who truly lack any type of health care, it really makes you
appreciate the safety nets we have here," Andersen said. "The poorest people in this
country still have a much higher standard of living than anyone in the village we
went to. They don't even have safe water to drink."
Both Patterson and Andersen admit the mission trips can be frustrating because of
the limited resources and capabilities of the temporary clinics established, but that
they know they've still made an impact on people's lives.
"It is frustrating that we can't do more," Patterson said. "You're seeing things that
would be easily fixable in this country but there they can't be. You just try to help
people get the services they need and do the best you can. In the end, everyone is
just so thankful for the care they received."
back to top
There was a time when a doctor could complete medical school, begin a practice somewhere,
and then help people get well. But in the modern world of medicine, it's become much
more complicated, much more competitive - much more businesslike. Now physicians must
be experts in insurance and billing procedures, at handling bureaucratic red tape,
and in hiring specialized office personnel. It has become necessary for physicians
to know as much about the business side of their practices as they know about the
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine and the Jerry S. Rawls
College of Business at Texas Tech University, already has in place one program - the
M.D./M.B.A. Program. In this program, students enrolled in medical school can receive
both M.D. and M.B.A. degrees concurrently during their four years of medical school.
Another business/health program, the health organization management program, prepares
students for managerial positions in the health care industry with special emphasis
on medical groups and ambulatory care. Yet neither of these programs addresses the
needs of already practicing physicians in the midst of expanding their own medical
practices or working as administrators in existing medical organizations.
Two years ago, the Rawls College of Business launched the M.B.A. Program for Physician
Leaders - the Physician M.B.A. program.
According to Jim Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of management at the Rawls College of Business
and director of the Physician M.B.A. program, "What differentiates our Physician M.B.A.
program from other executive M.B.A. programs is that we are really focusing on teaching
physicians how to better manage their practices and health care organizations."
Rawls College of Business Dean Allen T. McInnes, Ph.D., is excited about the program.
"I think there is a growing need for physicians who are capable of moving into management
positions as well as managing their own practices because they have a thorough understanding
of business practices, theories and activities," he said. "There are not many universities
in the country that have a program like this." The schools that do offer such programs
include the University of Tennessee, Auburn and Southern Florida.
The Rawls College Physician M.B.A. program at Texas Tech provides many advantages
for practicing physicians who want more business expertise: classes suited to their
busy schedules, curriculum relevant to their specialized field of medicine and a reasonably
priced program compared to the other programs. "The Texas Tech program costs thousands
of dollars less than the programs at these schools," said Hoffman, "and this doesn't
even count the travel costs those programs would require."
The Physician M.B.A. program is a fully accredited M.B.A. program designed exclusively
for physicians and taught in an executive M.B.A. format with classes held one weekend
each month for 24 months. The doctors eat their breakfasts and lunches together at
the school, which not only saves time and trouble, but also promotes a sense of camaraderie.
In fact, it's the combination of the condensed weekend schedule once a month and the
distance education component that make the program work for the physicians.
Although the curriculum in the program covers many traditional elements of an M.B.A.
program, other courses focus specifically on the health care industry. For example,
the operations and production management class covers patient flow, billing and collection
processes and productivity. "Each weekend the program meets, we try to provide the
physicians with knowledge and skills that they can take away from the classroom and
apply to their practices the next day," said Hoffman. "We try to make the material
covered on homework assignments and on take-home exams directly applicable to improving
the overall management of the physician's practice/health care organization."
Nellie Otero, M.D., director of the family medicine residency program at the medical
school campus in Odessa, believes her participation has helped put her department
in the black. "We started with a negative cash flow and now we're positive," she said,
"because after this course, I started looking at the numbers differently and trying
to find solutions in a different way. I decided to look at where and why we were losing
money instead of simply asking for more (to spend)."
Another goal of the program is to make doctors better equipped to deal with insurance
companies and health maintenance organizations. According to Hoffman, all of the physicians
in the program have a much better idea of how to create a compliance plan for their
practices and also how to better negotiate managed care contracts, with several of
the participants saying this is exactly what they have done.
Two semesters into the program, participating doctors say they are gaining a new outlook
toward the business side of their practices. Hoffman said, "After one year, we have
17 very satisfied physicians who feel that the program has been a great investment
of their time and money. Several have said they are saving or generating thousands
of dollars of additional income because of what they have learned in the program."
Dawn LaGrone, M.D., a psychiatrist who recently moved from Amarillo to Dallas, said
that although she is only halfway through the program, she learned enough to be able
to negotiate a lease for her new Dallas office space that saved her $13,000 over a
three-year term. "This program has made me realize just how much I didn't know about
business," she said.
The program has also been beneficial for Della Dillard, M.D., a family practitioner
who six years ago moved to Hale Center, a rural area south of Plainview, to work in
the hospital there with five other physicians. Last year, the hospital closed, filing
for bankruptcy and leaving the small town with two doctors, Dillard and one other
physician, a 79-year old who plans to soon retire. "I didn't want to move and didn't
think it would be fair to the people since they were basically surprised when the
hospital closed," she said. So she opened up a practice where she now has to wear
two hats. "As soon as the exam is complete, I do the financial stuff." Dillard has
learned through the hospital's closing that "nobody can manage your business better
than you yourself can, even if you make mistakes."
Of the variety of skills and knowledge doctors say they have acquired from the program,
what they all seem to value the most are the leadership skills they have learned.
Otero said she experienced a lot of turmoil in her department before she enrolled
in the program. "The first class I encountered dealt with personnel management, leadership
and communication," she said. "So from day one, I started using those skills, theories
and exercises in my department. Things started going more smoothly, I started communicating
better, and the people really began to change."
Sari Nabulsi, M.D., currently in the process of starting his own practice, said the
knowledge he values the most so far has been about "how to be an effective boss."
He said, "When I came out of residency, I had absolutely no idea how to run a business,
and learning how to be in charge is one of the hardest things in the world because
you have to strike a balance between your emotions and the business when it comes
to your employees. My whole way of thinking about how to run a business has turned
180 degrees since I started these classes."
Currently, physicians from Lubbock, Amarillo, Midland, Odessa, Hale Center and Dallas
are participating. They represent physicians of all types: family practitioners, surgeons
and specialists. Hoffman would eventually like to see physicians from all over Texas
and the Southwest participating. In fact, he is currently exploring the possibility
of offering the course in the Dallas area since no program of this sort exists there
for those area physicians.
For more information about the Physician M.B.A. program, call Hoffman at (806) 742-1236
or 742-4004, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Web site email@example.com for tentative class schedules and a complete list of application procedures.
back to top