DALLAS – The Texas Medical Association (TMA) elected Michael E. Speer, MD, of Houston its 147th president. TMA’s House of Delegates, the association’s policymaking body, elected Dr. Speer leader of the nation’s largest state medical society during TexMed, the association’s annual conference, held May 18-19 in Dallas.
“I am honored and grateful for having been selected by my peers in the House of Delegates to lead TMA,” said Dr. Speer, a neonatologist. “The next couple years are going to be critical for the health of Texas and the health of the organization. I want to leave TMA more energized and stronger than when I started my presidency.”
Dr. Speer chose a career in medicine for both practical and sentimental reasons. “I’m a Sputnik kid, and my parents and grandparents lived through the Depression, when the value of anything was heightened. When you grow up in a family like that, you want to have a job in which you can either work with your hands or work with your brain.” A thirst for knowledge inspires Dr. Speer to be the best at caring for his young patients. “I’m always learning. That’s why I’m in the practice of medicine — so I can practice and get better,” he said.
Dr. Speer earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston, then completed his internship at Ben Taub General Hospital and Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston. He completed his residency in pediatrics at BCM Affiliated Hospitals and his fellowships in infectious diseases and neonatology at BCM. Dr. Speer served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as an active duty officer during the Vietnam War.
The growing field of neonatal-perinatal medicine interested Dr. Speer as a medical student. “Neonatology was a brand-new specialty that had just been designated a couple years before, so I was getting in on the ground floor. Essentially, I’m a family physician for babies. I am responsible for their nutrition, their lung function, their kidney function, their gastrointestinal tract, muscles, brain, etc. It has been very rewarding, which is why I’m still in full-time practice.”
Dr. Speer has been practicing medicine for 44 years. He is board certified in pediatrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine, teaches full time at Baylor College of Medicine as professor of pediatrics and ethics, and cares for patients at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
Building TMA membership and protecting the doctor-patient relationship are important goals during Dr. Speer’s one-year term as TMA president. He will lead the organization through the often uncertain waters at the state Capitol as the Texas Legislature gets under way January 2013. He says increasing TMA membership is essential for successfully advocating for Texas patients.
“I’ve learned over the last decade or two if you go to the legislature and try to get things done beneficial to patients and the practice of medicine, the more diverse physicians and voices you have saying the same thing, it’s more likely you’re going to accomplish what you set out to,” said Dr. Speer.
Dr. Speer previously served on TMA’s Board of Trustees for seven years, including one year as chair. He also chaired the TMA Patient Safety Alliance and the TMA Council on Scientific Affairs, and he served as vice chair of TMA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Accountable Care Organizations. Since 1988, he’s served as a member of the Harris County Medical Society (HCMS) delegation to TMA. Dr. Speer also has been president of many physician organizations, including the Texas Perinatal Association, the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Harris County Medical Society.
In addition to his leadership in organized medicine, Dr. Speer dedicates his time to his patients as the deputy chief of pediatrics at The Methodist Hospital, and chief of the Newborn and Premature Service at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.
He and his wife, Mary, have been married 43 years and have two musician sons, James and Mark.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 46,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.