The topic on the lunch table for the Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation Board’s quarterly meeting on Tuesday, May 9, was the all-too-real challenge of Graduate Medical Education (GME). With 15,000 applicants for the 34 fellowship programs available at Baylor University Medical Center, only 89 will become fellows. And the need for physicians is growing due to a growing shortage of physicians. By 2032, it is estimated that the number of people over age 65 will be greater than those under 17, with Texas “facing a shortage of 10,000 physicians.”
Joining board members like Jeanne Whitman Bobbitt, Ken Schnitzer, Steve Meisel, Nancy Collins, Alan Friedman, Kelvin Walker, Diane Scovell, Michael Powell, Shelle Sills, Norm Lofgren, Mike Lafitte, Mike Barnett, Dr. Leonard Riggs and the late T. Boone Pickens‘ right hand lady Sally Geymuller for the luncheon at the Foundation were such graduate students as Dr. Sivakumar Sudhakaran, Dr. Ariane Lemieux, Dr. Luis Berrios and Dr. Brett Johnson. Brett was a very familiar face, having been part of the 2020 Celebrating Women program when his wife Diana Johnson was featured in the video about being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27.
But before discussion got underway, there was a timely chat involving the late T. Boone Pickens Chief Of Staff Jay Rosser, Baylor Scott and White Health CEO Pete McCanna and Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation Board Chair Norm Bagwell.
As a result of the recent sale of Pickens’ beloved ranch, the Pickens Foundation was in the process of fulfilling commitments made during the legendary philanthropist’s life. For Baylor it was $10M to support graduate medical education at BUMC.
Ben attributed the gift to the “Oracle of Oil’s” philanthropy, his team and the Baylor Scott and White Dallas Foundation team including his predecessor Robin Robinson that had made the $10M gift possible to support the GME program.
In addressing the group, Jay asked for their help in completing the phrase, “Where there’s a will….” Immediately, the guests responded, “… there’s a way.” He said, “No. Today it’s, ‘Where there’s a will, get in it.’” He explained that “Baylor got into Boone’s will for $10M.”
The news of the gift coincided with the day’s focus on the growing need to attract and support the upcoming generation of medical professionals.
The message was simply three-fold:
- The need for physicians is only going to become greater as the population grows and current professionals retire.
- Present physicians find themselves energized by their younger recruits.
- Baylor is a teaching, not a research, institute.
That is a very simplified breakdown of the discussion by the panel made up of Dr. Amy Wilson, Dr. Michael Sills, Dr. Cristie Columbus, who is VP of Medical Education and Chief of Infectious Diseases, and Foundation President Ben Renberg.
Cristie told how she had gotten her start at Baylor by completing her internship and residency and a fellowship in infectious diseases at Baylor University Medical Center.
Joining the foursome on stage was Ariane, who is an internal medicine resident. Michael recalled Ariane’s coming on board when she was three months pregnant with twins. Showing the human side of their relationship, Michael coaxed Ariane into telling how she had reported her having COVID. Had she had a test? No, but she did a self-diagnosis in changing the twins’ diaper and didn’t smell anything.