Dr. Christina Tung: Roberta Joy Uhr Award in Pediatrics

When Dr. Christina Tung was a junior in high school who hadn't given much thought to what she wanted to be, she managed to land a mentorship with a pediatrician.

Shortly after she finished that job, she decided medicine, in particular pediatrics, might be the career for her.

"Every child is different, and dealing with little ones and their families is so rewarding for me," Dr. Tung said.

Her passion for pediatrics was noted by UT Southwestern faculty members who picked her as the recipient of this year's Roberta Joy Uhr Award in Pediatrics. The $500 award is given annually to a deserving medical school graduate who excels in pediatrics. It was established by Dr. Jonathan Uhr, former chairman of microbiology, to honor his late first wife, who died in 1983.                                        

Dr. Christina Tung

"Christina Tung is a very bright student who aggressively seeks new knowledge," said Dr. Joel Steinberg, professor of pediatrics. "She has an enthusiasm for patient care and good interpersonal skills with patients and families. She should make the ideal pediatrician."

Dr. Tung said she was surprised because "a lot of other people in my class are really excellent. But I do feel very honored by this because I hope to make my life useful to the children I serve."

After graduating from Westfield High School in Spring, Texas, she attended Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied biology and Spanish. Then she returned to Texas after being accepted at UT Southwestern.

Dr. Tung, a voracious volunteer who has stayed busy with medical school and church activities, will remain in Dallas for her residency at Children's Medical Center Dallas. Her fiancé, Dr. Tomo Sakai, another June graduate, also will be doing his residencies in Dallas with a preliminary surgical residency at Methodist Hospitals of Dallas, then a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at UT Southwestern.

Pediatrics continued to interest Dr. Tung throughout medical school even though she tried to keep an open mind.

"It keeps me happy, but it can be intimidating," she said, recalling all the tears shed when she started out.

"On the first day of my pediatric rotation, I went into the clinic, and the kids just started crying. It made me so nervous. They were not happy to see me."

But the more time she spent with pediatricians and around small children, the more she learned, including how to handle her small, frightened patients.

"It's fun to learn how to connect with children," she said. "It's part of the joy of going into pediatrics."