This is a very special time of year for students and their families. It’s the month that graduates – from curious kindergartners to bright doctoral and medical students – walk across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas.
I recently had the honor of participating in the commencement ceremony at Baylor College of Medicine, as I have on more than 20 other occasions. Watching the medical and doctoral students receive their diplomas, I am always excited to think about how they will advance medicine to unknown heights in just a few short years, some even at Texas Children’s.
This year’s ceremony was especially moving for me since I was bestowed a very special recognition, an honorary degree – the Doctor of Humanities in Medicine.
As I received my honorary doctorate and shook the hand of Dr. Paul Klotman, Baylor’s President and CEO, I reflected on how my relationship with Baylor began. In 1977 when I joined Houston Methodist, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey was Baylor’s president and was regarded as the number one cardiovascular surgeon in the world. I remember how aspirational he was about making Baylor a great medical school.
I learned a great deal from Dr. DeBakey about the importance of teaching hospitals. I began to understand that what contributes to the success of great academic centers of excellence – teaching hospitals like Johns Hopkins, Mass General or Boston Children’s, for example – is their affiliation with a medical school which attracts the best minds and the brightest individuals. Our partnership with Baylor allows us to also benefit from the brightest minds who bring their passion and commitment to Texas Children’s.
I carried that knowledge and Dr. Debakey’s wisdom with me to Texas Children’s, which has had an affiliation with Baylor since its inception more than 60 years ago. Today, we have a complementary mix of Baylor faculty and outstanding private pediatricians, surgeons and Ob/Gyn physicians who choose to practice at Texas Children’s and are dedicated to fulfilling our mission. This culture of commitment to excellence, as part of our academic partnership, is essential to our goal of preeminence as one of the best pediatric and women’s health centers in the nation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the tremendous work and dedication of everyone associated with Texas Children’s – the Board, executive and physician leaders, our extraordinary employees and everyone else who is somehow involved in our commitment to patient care, education and research. It is your dedication that allowed me to celebrate that very special moment.