Notes From the IMG World

Fall 2015

Dr. Garcia Encourages IMGs to Say “Yes” to Organized Medicine

TMA President Tom Garcia, MD, takes pride in his status as an international medical graduate (IMG). A native of Alice, Texas, he received a bachelor of science in pharmacy from The University of Texas at Austin and went on to graduate from Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine in Jalisco, Mexico. 

Dr. Garcia has a proactive message for his fellow TMA IMG member physicians: “Bring your healthy and diverse opinions to the challenges of practicing medicine in Texas. The IMGs’ voice will always be sought after and welcomed. Therefore, say ‘yes’ to organized medicine. Say ‘yes’ to joining your county, state, and national organizations. Change will occur only with your help and participation. To ignore organized medicine is to ignore that our enemies are planning for our demise as practicing physicians, independent and free of all encumbrances that impede the patient-physician relationship.”

Dr. Garcia says IMGs have much to offer the Texas physician workforce. 

“I think diversity is our country’s greatest strength. It allows for the incorporation of diverse cultures, religions, and viewpoints, and therefore fosters innovative thinking and ideas as we progress into the future. The world outside the United States has been and will continue to have great and dedicated physicians practicing medicine,” he said.

Like many who attended medical school outside the United States, Dr. Garcia has fond memories of the years he spent training in Mexico. He says his time in Guadalajara allowed him “to understand a little bit more of my culture, language (I wasn’t fluent), and in general, the country and people of Mexico. In my view, it allowed me some time to understand that flexibility and change are inevitable and that I must be aware, prepare, and expect change in all areas of my life.”

Dr. Garcia has a long résumé of service to TMA, the American Medical Association, and the Harris County Medical Society (HCMS). He has served as HCMS president, chair of the TMA Board of Trustees, chair of TMA’s Committee on Cardiovascular Diseases, president of the TMA Foundation, TEXPAC district chair, and a member of TMA’s Council on Legislation and Border Health Caucus. He has served as a delegate and alternate delegate to the TMA and AMA houses of delegates. 

Dr. Garcia has practiced cardiology in Houston since 1981. He is an Eagle Scout and an active member of the Boy Scouts of America, Sam Houston Council. Dr. Garcia and his wife, Alma, have been married for 44 years and have four adult children and two grandchildren.

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Submit an Abstract for the 2016 Quality Poster Session

The TMA Council on Health Care Quality and TMF Health Quality Institute announce the fourth annual TMA Quality Poster Session to be held April 30 during TexMed 2016 at the Hilton Anatole Dallas. 

The TMA Quality Poster Session is a platform for physicians and medical students to share their breakthroughs and best practices for better patient care, especially in one or more of the six aims of quality care: that it be safe, timely, effective, equitable, efficient, and patient-centered. 

The TMA Quality Poster Session offers you a chance to gain exposure, network with other Texas physicians, and have your work published. Here are just a few of the many reasons to participate: ;

  • You’ll present your poster to physicians from across Texas during a continuing medical education event at TexMed 2016.
  • Your abstract will appear on the TMA website, which draws more than 75,000 visitors each month.
  • The top-three winners in each category receive a cash award. 

Abstract submissions are due no later than March 25, 2016. All accepted poster exhibitors will receive a travel stipend.  

Please tell colleagues about this event so they can take advantage of this enriching opportunity. For more information, poster parameters, and submission categories, or to see last year’s abstracts, visit the TMA website.

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Conrad 30 Program Deadline Extended to Dec. 11

In September, TMA’s Action newsletter included a “call to action” requesting IMG physicians send a letter to their Texas congressional delegation asking for continuation and expansion of the Conrad 30 Program prior to the Sept. 30, 2015, expiration date. The deadline has been extended to Dec. 11, 2015. 

The Conrad 30 Program allows certain IMG physicians who trained in the United States on J-1 visas to obtain a waiver of the two-year home residence requirement. In exchange for the waiver, the physician must work for at least three years treating medically underserved populations in the United States. Many communities rely heavily on IMG physicians for their primary care needs. 

During the Fall Conference meeting, the IMG Section members received an update from content experts Connie Berry, a former employee of the Texas Department of State Health Services; Marcia Collins, director of TMA's Department of Medical Education; and Darren Whitehurst, vice president of TMA's Division of Advocacy. The discussion covered multiple items affecting IMG licensing including expanding and continuing Conrad 30 waivers, as well as the other options that are available to IMG physicians wanting to practice in the United States without having to return home for two years. TMA will monitor the issue and keep section members updated on the latest information. 

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Do You Know a Minority Medical School Applicant Deserving of a Scholarship?

The TMA Minority Scholarship Program has provided scholarships to qualified, underrepresented minority medical students since 1998. This scholarship supports TMA’s vision, “to improve the health of all Texans,” and its long-standing priority of addressing health disparities. 

Please consider reviewing the scholarship’s qualifications and forwarding the online application to those who may benefit. Also, consider donating to the TMA Foundation so that all Texas medical schools receive funding for an annual scholarship. 

For more information about the scholarship program, email Gail Schatte at TMA, or call her at (512) 370-1600 or (800) 880-1300, ext. 1600. To contact the TMA Foundation, call (512) 370-1664, or (800) 880-1300, ext. 1664. 

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Wanted: Physicians Who Pursue Awesome Hobbies, Passions Outside the Office 

Do you have an interesting (even unique) hobby or passion you enjoy when you're not in the office? Do you know a TMA member physician colleague who cuts loose on the weekends and lets the creative juices flow, who takes time to serve others in need, or who has a remarkable talent? If you do, TMA's Texas Medicine magazine would like to hear from you. 

The magazine periodically publishes a column called “Back Talk” that features a portrait of a physician enjoying his or her favorite outside-the-office pursuit. (For an example, see page 64 of the September issue.) If you would like to nominate yourself or a physician colleague for possible inclusion in “Back Talk,” please email Texas Medicine Editor Crystal Zuzek with “Back Talk” in the subject line. Include the physician’s name and contact information, along with a brief description of the hobby or pastime. 

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Update Your TMA Online Profile So Referring Colleagues Can Find You 

When prospective patients and referring colleagues visit TMA’s online Find a Physician directory (the most frequently visited page on the TMA website) or the DocbookMD mobile app, will they be able to find you?

“Take a few moments to check the data in your online membership profile and make any corrections needed,” said Steven L. Cole, DO, chair of the TMA Committee on Membership. “Be sure to confirm your contact information under the Address tab.

“While you’re at it, click on the Interests tab to tell us exactly which professional topics you need to know the most about,” Dr. Cole continued. “Thanks in advance for helping us keep our membership lists accurate and for helping us use your membership dollars for purposes more worthwhile than shuffling paper.”

Questions? Contact the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955, Monday-Friday, 8:15 am-5:15 pm CT, or email

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Are You Getting the Most From Your TMA Membership?

Check TMA’s return on investment calculator to see what other benefits and services you can tap into. 

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Save the Dates

The American Medical Association International Medical Graduate Section Interim Meeting will be Nov. 12-15 in Atlanta at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

Mark your calendar for 2016 TMA Winter Conference, which will take place Jan. 29-30 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin.

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Deadlines for Doctors

TMA’s Deadlines for Doctors alerts you and your staff to upcoming state and federal compliance timelines and offers information on key health policy issues that affect your practice. For example:

Humana Code Edit and Policy Change Notifications

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TMA Education Center

The TMA Education Center offers convenient, one-stop access to the continuing medical education Texas physicians need. TMA's practice management, cancer, and physician health courses are now easier than ever to find online.

Medicare Seminar
Medicare Now and Tomorrow
Nov. 3-Dec. 3, 2015

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