Pediatrician Steinberg named Professor Emeritus

By Debbie Bolles

Dr. Joel Steinberg, a Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center with one of the longest running tenures for a pediatric faculty member at 50 years, has been named Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Steinberg officially retired as a full-time faculty member in the summer of 2013, although he continues to teach on a volunteer basis. At that time, Chairman of Pediatrics Dr. Julio Pérez Fontán sent out an announcement to pediatric faculty members describing Dr. Steinberg’s enduring contributions.

Dr. Joel Steinberg, a Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center
Dr. Joel Steinberg, a Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center has been named Professor Emeritus.

“During his long and illustrious career, Joel has moved with ease from private to academic practice, accumulating a vast experience and an unparalleled reputation as the clinician’s clinician,” said Dr. Pérez Fontán. “Not surprisingly, along the way, he has been tapped to provide leadership and guidance, and he has always answered the call with grace and generosity.”

By age 5, Dr. Steinberg set his sights on becoming a doctor. Exactly why, he’s not sure, but “that’s all I ever wanted to be,” recalled Dr. Steinberg, who was born in Dallas, grew up in Fort Worth, and recently celebrated his 79th birthday.

Dr. Steinberg attended Tulane University as an undergraduate student and then Tulane School of Medicine, graduating in 1959. He interned at Parkland Memorial Hospital and then returned to Tulane for his pediatric residency.

After a two-year stint in the Air Force, Dr. Steinberg in 1964 opened a private pediatric practice in Richardson and concurrently served as a volunteer clinical faculty member at UT Southwestern. In 1980 he was named President of the Medical Staff at Children’s Medical Center. In 1986 he joined UT Southwestern full time as a Professor of Pediatrics.

From 1989 to 2000, Dr. Steinberg served as Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs at UT Southwestern. At various times, he also served on the Institutional Review Board, as Master of the Gladys Fashena College, and as Director of the pediatric clerkship program.

Along the way, Dr. Steinberg has been recognized with many honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pediatric Society of Greater Dallas in 2012 and election as a faculty member to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and the Southwestern Academy of Teachers. He formerly held the Robert L. Moore Chair in Pediatrics and later the Judith and Charles Ginsburg Chair in Pediatrics.

Dr. Steinberg said he’s enjoyed every minute of his career as a pediatrician, a specialty that fit his personality perfectly since he enjoys helping children. He said compassion, along with good listening and communication skills, make an effective pediatrician and have served him well through the years.

Teaching medical students and residents also has contributed to Dr. Steinberg’s sense of purpose. Many have described his teaching style as “storytelling.” One year, residents presented him with a plaque of his 10 favorite sayings, such as “If you treat a self-limiting disease, you always get good results.”

Looking back, Dr. Steinberg said he has no regrets about his career, and if he had to do it all over again, he would without hesitation. “I can’t think of a day that I got up and wished I didn’t have to go to work,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed medicine and the relationships I’ve developed with families.”