May 2, 2014
Alan C. Baum,
MD, of Houston has been honored with the 2014 Texas Medical
Association (TMA) Distinguished Service Award. He received TMA’s top
honor today at a meeting of TMA’s House of Delegates, the
association’s policymaking body,
during the association’s s annual conference in Fort Worth. TMA’s Board of Councilors ethics body selected him for the
“Receiving this honor was certainly unexpected,” said
Dr. Baum, an ophthalmologist. “But I appreciate it very much and am encouraged
that the Board of Councilors has recognized me.”
Dr. Baum has been actively involved in TMA leadership throughout
his 42 years as a member. He held top TMA leadership positions including
service in the TMA Foundation, the association’s philanthropic arm, and in TEXPAC,
TMA’s political action committee. He saw the importance of involvement in
organized medicine at an early age.
His father was a family physician who ascended to
leadership roles himself, which Dr. Baum says “probably molded my approach.” He
credits not only his father but also other physicians he admired in his early
days as a doctor. “These were the people I considered to be the giants in
medicine. I felt they were trying to push medicine in the right direction, so that
influenced me to follow in their footsteps.”
Driven to protect physicians’ ability to provide good patient
care, Dr. Baum worked hard to form invaluable relationships with Texas
legislators. He realized the importance of advocating on behalf of his profession
and his patients to improve Texas’ health care. “Calling on legislators can
make such a difference, when they see you’re willing to share what’s important
to your patients and your practice. Doing so, you represent so much more than
yourself.” He often visited with Texas’ legislators and members of Congress as
an individual physician and as a TMA leader. He fostered relationships by
calling and visiting political leaders in Austin and in the home district.
Dr. Baum also worked to help elect politicians who
understood the needs of health care and organized medicine. He recalled helping
one candidate’s campaign: Though the candidate did not carry most of his
district’s counties, he won votes in the most-populous areas including those
where Dr. Baum helped … and he won the election. Congressman Kevin Brady
continues to serve today, and often supports organized medicine and patient
Dr. Baum used experiences like this to influence other
young doctors. “If he was a prophet, I was one of his disciples,” said fellow
Houston ophthalmologist Keith A. Bourgeois, MD, who noticed Dr. Baum’s activism
from the moment he met him as a young resident physician. “He was always
visiting with his colleagues about the political process and how it’s affecting
physicians’ practices and their patients. And he mentored you, but you didn’t
realize you were being mentored,” he said.
The Harris County Medical Society (HCMS), with which Dr.
Baum has been involved throughout his career, nominated him for the Distinguished Service Award.
“At the local, state, and national levels, Dr. Baum has provided outstanding
leadership to the medical profession,” said Russell W. H. Kridel, MD, HCMS’
immediate past president. “There is no doubt his dedication to organized
medicine, education, and the legislative arena has left a legacy for future
physicians and their patients.”
“I think we always need to encourage our young physicians
to be part of and influence the advocacy process and direction of medicine,”
said Dr. Baum. “Just put their feet in the water and see how it works for them.”
Dr. Baum lived by that philosophy since he became a
TMA member in 1972. He served as the association’s president, chaired its Board
of Trustees, and served on other committees. He represented HCMS as a delegate
to TMA’s House of Delegates for more than 30 years. He also chaired TEXPAC’s
Board of Directors and remains active in that organization today on behalf of
HCMS. He also served as a TMA Foundation trustee.
Dr. Baum also held several top leadership positions in
HCMS, including the presidency of the HCMS Southwest Branch, and in several
specialty societies, including the presidency of the Texas Ophthalmological
Dr. Baum received his medical degree from The
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and completed an internship,
residency, and a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery at The University of Texas
Medical School at Houston.
For years he most enjoyed “just getting a good result”
for his patients. But with time he realized the relationships mattered most.
“You realize how supportive your long-time patients have been,” said Dr. Baum. “You
see how they look to you, grateful and respectful for your efforts to make a
difference in their care and their lives.” For that he is grateful to have been
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
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