Watson Award recipient Mansour recognized for exceptional patient care, clinical expertise

Dr. John Mansour acknowledges Division members in attendance at the Watson event.
Dr. John Mansour acknowledges Division members in attendance at the Watson event.

Dr. John Mansour, a noted clinician and educator at UT Southwestern, accepted the University’s highest clinical honor, the prestigious Patricia and William L. Watson Jr., M.D. Award for Excellence in Clinical Medicine, at a special ceremony on Oct. 17.

Dr. Mansour, Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, said that he was profoundly moved by the accolade. “I am humbled to stand here today in front of past winners of this award and the faculty of UT Southwestern who strive every day to deliver the best care available – not just in Dallas, but in the world,” Dr. Mansour said.

“To be recognized is such an honor, but providing clinical care is not one doctor’s job – it can be upturned or enriched by a number of people. It’s impossible to do what we are credited for doing without this talented cast of characters, this team that provides our patients the best care possible.”

His wife Christine, daughters Kelly and Erin, and son Will accompanied Dr. Mansour, who took a moment to thank them for their support and sacrifices and the long hours he has spent with patients and their families. He then acknowledged his parents, Dr. Edward Mansour and Mary Beth Mansour, and credited much of his success to the example set by his father.

“My father is the best doctor I know,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to be exposed to and work with amazing physicians, but no one I’ve encountered is better. How he approaches people – everyone’s concern is important, everyone’s peace is important – is incredible. The No. 1 doctor I know is my father.”

Dr. John Mansour, holding his Watson Award, with Dr. Kareem AbdelFattah, Assistant Professor of Surgery (fourth from right), and several Surgical Oncology residents who attended the event.

He also thanked Dr. Robert Rege, Interim Chairman of Surgery, the gastrointestinal cancer team at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as the team’s staff, residents, and trainees, pointing out some of the characteristics embraced by the group: “It is being part of a team, being willing to sacrifice in delivering quality care, and diving into that sacrifice,” he said. “By really understanding the daily sufferings of our patients, we can become better doctors and remember why we wake up every morning to improve the lives of our patients.”

Each year, the Watson Award is given to a faculty physician who has had a profound impact on students, trainees, colleagues, and patients through excellence in clinical care. Alumnus Dr. William Watson and his wife, Patricia, established the Watson Award and the accompanying Watson Lecture in 2009 as a way to give back to his alma mater by recognizing UT Southwestern faculty physicians who exemplify excellence in patient care and are leaders in advancing clinical innovations. Dr. Watson, who maintained a private practice in Waco until his retirement in 1992, died in 2012.

Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern, said Dr. Mansour epitomizes the intent of the award.

“John embodies the special combination of clinical expertise and humanism that we seek to honor with the Watson Award,” Dr. Podolsky said. “John is known as a ‘go-to physician’ on campus. It has been said that each patient who leaves his office has become an expert on their condition because of his ability to explain medical issues clearly and comprehensively. He is a surgeon whom junior faculty reach out to for advice, and an exceptional educator of our medical students.”

Dr. Dr. James L. Madara discusses ongoing AMA initiatives.
Dr. James L. Madara discusses ongoing AMA initiatives.

Dr. Podolsky recognized the past Watson Award recipients who joined in the 2017 celebration – Dr. Gary Reed, Associate Dean for Quality, Safety, and Outcomes Education, (2009); Dr. Sharon Reimold, Professor of Internal Medicine (2012); Dr. Carlos E. Girod, Professor of Internal Medicine (2015); and Dr. William Laurence “Larry” Thornton, Professor of Psychiatry (2016).

Following presentation of the award, Dr. James L. Madara, CEO and Executive Vice President of the American Medical Association, presented the 2017 Watson Lecture, titled “Health Care: 21st Century Needs and Roles of Physicians.”

“You can judge the character of a place by what it celebrates,” Dr. Madara said. “And to celebrate clinical medicine says a lot about UT Southwestern.”

‘21st Century Needs and Roles'

Dr. Madara’s presentation outlined some of medicine’s changes and challenges along with the AMA’s long-term strategic plans to address them. “Uncertainty should not immobilize us, as many actions can be taken,” Dr. Madara said.

Challenges include working to support more social services, moving the health care system from an acute and episodic model to one that is more chronic disease-based, refining and improving medical education and training, and recognizing the shifts in medical information delivery. The AMA’s strategy includes developing critical tools and policies, supporting effective professional development, and working to solve the nation’s chronic care dilemma.

“Certain problems faced by physicians require transformative innovations,” said Dr. Madara, who has led the AMA since 2011. “We have to define the problems at the patient level and then work up through the system. Don’t start at the administrative level and work down.”

As physicians have embraced electronic medical records and reporting, a new dynamic has emerged: how the various informational systems can be shared and, from an overarching standpoint, how they can be universally compiled to identify and address population health issues.

Today’s medical students and clinicians also face new hurdles, he said. One AMA-sponsored study reported that physicians get the most satisfaction in spending time with patients – but they were spending twice as much time on data entry and administrative burdens. An AMA consortium organized to study education, meanwhile, revealed that 50 percent of medical schools do not allow students to access and use electronic medical records that they will need to be familiar with as clinicians, Dr. Madara said.

Dr. Girod holds the Ron Anderson, M.D. Professorship in Clinical Care and Education at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Reed holds the S.T. Harris Family Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine, named in his honor; the Eva A. Rosenthal Professorship in Internal Medicine, also in his honor; and the Sinor/Pritchard (Katy Sinor and Kay Pritchard) Professorship in Medical Education Honoring Donald W. Seldin, M.D.

Dr. Rege holds the Hall and Mary Lucile Shannon Distinguished Chair in Surgery.

Dr. Reimold holds the Gail Griffiths Hill Chair in Cardiology.

Dr. Thornton holds the McKenzie Foundation Chair in Psychiatry II.