Ho Din Award winner also takes Excellence in Dermatology Award

By Erin Prather Stafford

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Dr. Tyler Hollmig is this year’s recipient of the Ho Din Award – the highest honor given to a graduating medical student.

Ho Din is a Greek acronym representing “the spirit of medical wisdom,” and Southwestern Medical Foundation has given the award annually since 1943. The Ho Din, which includes a certificate, a gold key charm and $7,500, honors Dr. Edward H. Cary, the first president of Southwestern Medical Foundation. Winners are recognized for exhibiting outstanding knowledge, understanding and compassion.

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Dr. Tyler Hollmig

As an underclassman at Duke University, Dr. Hollmig was uncertain of his eventual career path but thought he might become a lawyer or a writer. But as a junior he came to realize that he wanted a career that would be intellectually stimulating while providing an opportunity to help others on an intimate level. Medicine was the answer and he soon enrolled in premed classes.

After graduating in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in public policy, he returned to Texas because of Ashley Ruff, the woman he hoped would become his wife. She had begun law school at UT Austin after graduating from Duke, and that influenced Dr. Hollmig’s decision to come to UT Southwestern in 2005.

“I knew it was a great medical school that also happened to fit my personal interests,” he said. “It has been a great honor to attend an institution built through the efforts of so many legendary contributors to medicine. What has been especially wonderful is the opportunity to work closely with many of the new leaders in our field, faculty members on the front line of medical practice and at the peak of their careers who are also committed to teaching medical students in the most efficient and ambitious way possible.”

Dr. Hollmig admits to having changed his mind numerous times about which specialty to pursue. He found something compelling in each of his clerkships, but it was dermatology that eventually won his heart. He spent a month in his fourth year rotating with Dr. Ponciano Cruz, professor of dermatology, whom Dr. Hollmig calls both an inspiration and a great mentor.

Dr. Cruz in turn had nothing but praise for Dr. Hollmig.

“From a clinical perspective, Tyler is among only a handful of the very best students whom I have had the opportunity to interact with in two decades,” he said. “His façade – that of a humble, easygoing, fun to work with, readily accessible, happy individual — masks a driven, highly organized and multitalented person. After just a month’s rotation, he was missed by patients, nurses and non-Southwestern rotators. I am convinced he has a photographic memory and is capable of success in any aspect of dermatology he will be drawn to.”

Dr. Hollmig says dermatology not only allows him to build relationships with patients; he is also attracted to the visual and scientific aspects of the field. In addition to the Ho Din Award, Dr. Hollmig is the winner of this year’s Excellence in Dermatology Award, an honor he shares with Dr. Shadi Kourosh.

“The skin plays a key role in so many aspects of medicine,” Dr. Hollmig said. “From immunology, to oncology, to serving as a window to both internal and external pathology, it is a fascinating organ to study. Moreover, a dermatologist’s success or failure in treating disease is often quite apparent; this is a field where one can continually refine his or her skill, both medically and surgically, in a manner that provides profound physical and emotional benefits to patients.”

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As part of the UT Southwestern community, Dr. Hollmig participated in a number of extracurricular activities. He is most proud of his involvement in creating a program in which Alpha Omega Alpha honor society members mentor first- and second-year medical students. He also spent several summers researching pediatric musculoskeletal infection with Dr. Lawson Copley, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery.

Dr. Hollmig will leave Texas to complete his residency at Stanford University School of Medicine. Ms. Ruff, who is now Dr. Hollmig’s wife, will accompany him and continue her law career.

Regarding his selection for the Ho Din and Excellence in Dermatology awards, Dr. Hollmig said: “My goal is to receive these honors not as rewards for tasks already accomplished, but instead as symbols of the type of doctor I want to become.

“I hope to dedicate myself to my training, to my field and to the lives of my future patients in such a way that fulfills the ideals embodied by these awards. Credit for any success I’ve achieved in medical school — in life, for that matter — certainly goes first to the blessing of support and guidance I have received from my faith, wife, family and friends.”

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