Dr. Carlos Enrique Velasco: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award

By Lisa Ashley Warshaw

Dr. Carlos Enrique Velasco

At age 10, Dr. Carlos Enrique Velasco came to the United States with his mom, dad, and sister from Cuba. As the youngest member in his family, he recognized early on that he had been given a unique opportunity.

“Coming from Cuba is a big thing for me,” Dr. Velasco said. “Being from a country where I did not have as many opportunities as I have here makes me feel like it would be a shame to squander the gamut of opportunities available to me.

“So it pushed me to be an overachiever – to come to UT Southwestern and become the best physician I can be.”

Dr. Velasco is the 2010 recipient of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award (SAEM) for demonstrating an intense commitment to emergency medicine.

“I was not expecting this recognition because those who are going into emergency medicine are very well-qualified, well-prepared, and inspiring, and to know that I was chosen among them to receive this award makes me feel both very honored and grateful,” he said.

Dr. Velasco’s commitment to emergency medicine began in earnest after he trailed Dr. Raymond Fowler, Professor of Surgery in the Division of Emergency Medicine, in the emergency room one night. He said it is the broad and unpredictable nature of emergency medicine that he particularly enjoys.

“It is both very challenging and rewarding to be able to say that no matter what comes in the door, you are trained to handle it,” he said. 

In the emergency room and laboratory, Dr. Velasco has achieved great success. His research has shown that paramedics’ ability to diagnose acute heart attacks based on pre-hospital EKGs can mean quicker response time upon arriving in the emergency room – a potentially lifesaving strategy.

Dr. Velasco’s efforts garnered the 2010 Outstanding Poster Presentation of the Year from the Texas College of Emergency Physicians. 

“Dr. Velasco demonstrated that complete dedication to a singular research goal pays off,” said Dr. Jeff Van Dermark, Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Emergency Medicine. 

“He was brilliant in pursuing and appreciating the value of relevant research in emergency medicine, rather than just filling a blank in his CV. His collaborative research with Dr. Raymond Fowler resulted in national acclaim in emergency medicine research and was instrumental in easily achieving the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award.”

Dr. Velasco attended Dallas’ Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where he studied jazz guitar. But his academic interests eventually turned toward science, and he graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in biology from UT Dallas.

Today, he is looking forward to rejoining his family and taking part in the robust Cuban-American culture in Orlando, Fla., as a resident in emergency medicine at Florida Hospital.

The SAEM Award includes a one-year subscription to the SAEM monthly journal, Academic Emergency Medicine, a one-year subscription to the SAEM Newsletter, and a one-year membership to SAEM.