Dr. Michael Wu: Lorraine Sulkin-Schein Medical Student Award in Geriatric Medicine

Unlike many children, Dr. Michael Wu didn’t grow up with grandparents close by. Maybe that’s why he vividly recalls visiting his late paternal grandmother at age 5 and being confused by her unusual behavior; she suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Michael Wu
Dr. Michael Wu

“I remember being so afraid of her,” Dr. Wu said. “I didn’t understand the disease process at that time.”

Now that he knows significantly more about geriatric diseases, one of Dr. Wu’s greatest pleasures is listening to the stories of older adults and helping them. He plans to practice geriatric medicine, specializing in rheumatology, cardiology, or general geriatrics, and heads to Northwestern University in Chicago soon for an internal medicine residency.

Dr. Wu’s interest in geriatrics, including research under the mentorship of Dr. Craig Rubin, Chief of Geriatric Medicine, led to his selection for the Lorraine Sulkin-Schein Medical Student Award in Geriatric Medicine. The honor recognizes a medical student who has demonstrated compassion, keen interest, and commitment to the care of older adults.

The award is named in honor of Mrs. Schein, a longtime supporter of UT Southwestern Medical Center who bequeathed funds to promote geriatrics as a career path for medical students. She died in 2007 at the age of 89.

“Dr. Wu possesses the array of knowledge, attitude, and skills necessary for the optimal care of all patients, especially frail and vulnerable older adults,” Dr. Rubin said. “He embraces the care of complex patients, always demonstrating an extremely compassionate attitude.”

In 2011, Dr. Wu received an American Federation for Aging Research award for a research project that analyzed attitudes toward aging and elder care among immigrant and first-generation Chinese Americans.

“I enjoy the company of the geriatric population. I like their stories and also the complexity they bring with their medical histories,” said Dr. Wu.

While attending UT Austin, where he earned a biology degree, he volunteered at a nursing home. That experience also helped spur his interest in geriatrics. The Carrollton native and R.L. Turner High School graduate recalled with fondness how an elderly resident with dementia would dance with her husband when someone played the piano.

 “Letting her have that moment of being happy and dancing is better than just being so scared she might fall and hurt herself,” he said. “That is an important quality-of-life balance I learned from all the geriatricians here.”