Dr. Tianshi David Wu: Dr. Richard Mays Smith Award in Internal Medicine

By Donna Steph Hansard

Dr. Tianshi David Wu had planned to be an engineer or programmer – until his freshman year in college when his thoughts took a 180-degree turn.

Dr. Tianshi David Wu
Dr. Tianshi David Wu

“I liked taking apart and building things, and I had hoped to design something that would change the world,” he said. “Freshman year, I had the opportunity to take an EMT course, and I absolutely loved it. The body, to me, was very much like a complicated machine. I sensed that I could make a better impact in medicine, and it had that human factor, something that I always thought was missing in a more technical field.”

Dr. Wu is the 2012 recipient of the Dr. Richard Mays Smith Award in Internal Medicine. The award is given annually to a graduating medical student who excels academically during clinical rotations and exhibits an interest in and compassion for patients.

“David cared for many complex patients with a variety of illnesses during his rotation,” said Dr. Kathryn J. Eubank, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine. “He was able to handle both common diagnoses as well as weigh the complex symptoms and co-morbidities typical of this population to arrive at respectable differentials, accurate diag - noses, and sensible plans of care.

“He has a warm personality and established excellent patient rapport, and his patients loved him. Overall, he was a complete delight to work with, and his teammates gave him very high praise – trustworthy and good clinical judgment from the resident’s perspective, and helpful and enthusiastic from the intern’s viewpoint.”

Born in Beijing and raised in Houston since the age of 4, Dr. Wu earned a bachelor’s degree in biomed ical engineering from Duke University. Once he started medical school, he said he “had a feeling” he would specialize in internal medicine.

“Internal medicine really was about connecting with the patient. Everybody’s perception of disease is different, and everybody brings their own experiences to the table,” Dr. Wu said. “The science is not the challenge, it’s taking a short 30-minute encounter and using it to make a real and true benefit to the person’s life. To me, that was the real challenge in Internal Medicine, and that was what drew me to it.

“Also some of the most brilliant and inspiring people I’ve met were IM physicians, and I wanted to be like them.” Dr. Wu will serve his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, along with his new wife, Katie Tran, a graduating medical student from Texas A&M University who will start a pediatric residency at HUP. They were married May 26.