Two clinicians appointed to family medicine professorships

By Debbie Bolles

Dr. Manjula Julka and Dr. Dan Sepdham, Associate Professors of Family and Community Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, have been named the first holders of two family medicine professorships.

Dr. Manjula Julka
Dr. Manjula Julka

Dr. Julka, Medical Director of Family Medicine, will hold the Dr. John L. and Louise Roan Professorship in Family Medicine. Dr. Sepdham, Director of the Family Medicine Clerkship program, will hold the Drs. Malone V. Hill and John W. Pate Professorship in Family Medicine.

“Dr. Sepdham is committed to the training of UT Southwestern clerkship students and family medicine residents. He’s done a great job in this role for more than six years,” said Dr. Amer Shakil, Interim Chairman of Family and Community Medicine. “Dr. Julka also has done tremendously well, in her case leading and expanding our Family Medicine-Primary Care Clinic.”

A gift to Southwestern Medical Foundation in 2013 from Mrs. King Terry established the Hill-Pate Professorship. It is named after two late West Texas physicians – one a surgeon and the other a general practitioner – who had cared for Mrs. Terry’s family through the years.

Dr. Dan Sepdham
Dr. Dan Sepdham

The Roan Professorship was established through a donation in 2006 from John Roan, who retired in 2012 as Executive Vice President for Business Affairs at UT Southwestern, and his wife, Sherry. The professorship honors Mr. Roan’s late parents, including his father, who had worked as a family doctor in Weatherford for 50 years.

The multigenerational connections achieved by longtime practitioners such as Dr. Roan attracted Dr. Julka to family medicine. She grew up in India, where family-oriented primary care is the common health care model.

“The whole family goes to the same doctor for years together, everyone from grandkids to grandparents. The doctors become more like family friends,” Dr. Julka said. “I always wanted to do primary care and can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Though her parents were initially resistant to her pursuit of a medical career due to the length of schooling and cultural emphasis on women to marry, Dr. Julka entered Seth G.S. Medical College in Bombay at age 17. She graduated with a medical degree at age 22, completed her internship and then married. In 1996, she moved to the U.S. with her husband, who at the time was pursuing a Master of Business Administration. Dr. Julka completed her residency at UT Southwestern in 2002, operated a family medicine practice in Lewisville for several years, and then returned to the medical center in 2006.

Not only does she run the Family Medicine-Primary Care Clinic at St. Paul University Hospital, but Dr. Julka also assists Dr. Shakil in faculty development for the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

“We have been very successful in improving patient satisfaction and have enacted innovative changes to make our clinic a patient-centered medical home,” she said. “This is a very exciting time to be in primary care, with the focus changing back to the family doctor, who knows the patient best and can integrate care.”

From Dr. Sepdham’s perspective, properly training future family doctors is equally important in the ever-changing health care landscape now impacted by the Affordable Care Act.

“We are potentially leaving a legacy through that physician training process,” Dr. Sepdham said. “The compassion for patients carries on, and the standards of quality care carry on.”

Dr. Sepdham, who also serves as a small-group mentor in the Academic Colleges program, was influenced to go into medicine by his mother, a neurologist who emigrated from Thailand. He earned his medical degree at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, the same place where he was born. Before joining the UT Southwestern faculty, Dr. Sepdham served in the U.S. Air Force for six years as a flight surgeon.

“I hope to use the professorship to better the educational experience for the students who rotate with us in family medicine,” said Dr. Sepdham.

Dr. Shakil holds the Perry E. Gross, M.D., Distinguished Chair in Family Medicine, the Stanley Gilbert, M.D., Professorship in Family Practice, and the Dr. Bill Ross Professorship in Family Practice.