For Immediate Release
Oct. 22, 2011
Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
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As a kid apprentice for the doctor next door to his father’s dry cleaning shop in tiny 1952 Alpine, Texas, little did Bohn D. Allen imagine he would one day receive Texas’ highest physician honor.
Yet today the Texas Medical Association (TMA) celebrated Dr. Allen, a longtime Arlington surgeon, as the 2011 Distinguished Service Award recipient at its annual TMA Fall Conference in Austin.
“I am truly honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Dr. Allen. “This is singularly the greatest award I have ever received.”
The Tarrant County Medical Society (TCMS) nominated Dr. Allen for the award. Paul Handel, MD, described the reasons Dr. Allen deserves the accolade as he introduced him at the Austin award ceremony.
“What we recognize or learn about quickly is Bohn’s integrity, inspiring action, and intellectual prowess,” said Dr. Handel, a recent member of TMA’s Board of Trustees.
The son of a World War II fighter pilot who established his business in west Texas, Dr. Allen was a child when he decided he wanted to become a surgeon one day. He began to observe and help an Alpine doctor in his clinic when he was just a teenager. Young Mr. Allen worked in the physician’s lab, assisted him in surgery, and nursed patients at night during high school and summers while he was home from college. He was hooked on medicine.
“I have been so honored to be a physician and to be given the privilege to care for my patients over these many years,” Dr. Allen said when he became TMA’s president in 2004. He began seeing patients in private practice in Arlington in 1971, and he joined TMA then.
“There was never any question whether I would join [TMA]; I have always been a joiner,” he remembers. “Right or wrong, I have always believed I had something to contribute on behalf of patients and their physicians.”
And though he did not aspire to rise among the ranks in the association, he certainly became a leader. In addition to serving as TMA’s president, Dr. Allen assumed numerous leadership roles. He has been a member of the TMA Board of Trustees, chaired TMA’s Council on Socioeconomics, and served on numerous committees. He also served in the Texas Delegation to the American Medical Association House of Delegates. Dr. Allen is past president of the Arlington Medical Society, TCMS, and Fort Worth Surgical Society. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of both the Arlington Memorial Hospital and the Texas Health Resources hospital system. He is a recipient of the Arlington Medical Society’s Physician of the Year award and TCMS’ Gold-Headed Cane award, its highest honor.
“It is compelling to speak about [Dr. Allen’s] tireless service to his community as a general surgeon in Arlington,” said Dr. Handel.
Prior to starting his practice in Texas, Dr. Allen served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for 12 years. He ran a burn unit at the 106th General Hospital in Yokohama, Japan, and he was a consultant for the treatment and evacuation of burned patients for the Far East Command during the Vietnam War. All told, Dr. Allen estimates he has performed 20,000 surgeries — from repairing war wounds of Vietnam casualties to the typical gallbladder and hernia operations of a general surgeon in private practice. (He estimates that he probably performed as much surgery during his five years treating the Vietnam war wounded as he did during his entire 37 years treating patients in private practice.)
While this physician statesman served TMA and organized medicine through changing times in medicine — rubbing elbows with governors and addressing Congress and the Texas Legislature many times — he is quick to spread the credit. “This award is not about me, but about the many people who helped me along the way on my journey through medicine, from the family doctor and surgeon in Alpine who sparked the fire of passion I developed for medicine, to most importantly, my family,” he told the TMA Fall Conference audience. “A person never receives an award of this magnitude for what they alone have accomplished.”
“He has been an indefatigable champion for the patients and physicians of Texas in congressional hearings, around our state and in the houses of medicine,” added Dr. Handel.
Regardless of his public achievements, family, friends and colleagues seem most important to Dr. Allen, Dr. Handel observed. “Honoring family, and maintaining important relationships clearly drives Bohn. Moreover, he extends those values to his family of medicine and to his patients,” said Dr. Handel. “I believe his care for these people inspires him in everything he does.”
Dr. Allen substantiates that thought himself. “I thank [his wife] Ann and my children for enduring my romance with medicine over the past 50 years,” he said in his acceptance speech. “Your uncompromising love for me is what sustained me through it all.”
Dr. Allen is a Texas Longhorn — even his burnt-orange luggage sports the Longhorns logo. He attended The University of Texas (UT) in Austin and graduated from UT Medical Branch in Galveston in 1961. He interned at Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colo.; completed his residency in general and vascular surgery at Madigan General Hospital in Tacoma, Wash.; and completed a fellowship in burns at the Institute of Surgical Research burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, prior to caring for military patients in the Far East.
While caring for countless patients and establishing himself as a leading physician among physicians, Dr. Allen married and started a family. He and Ann have been married for 53 years, and they have three daughters and six grandchildren.
Despite all of his achievements and accolades, Dr. Allen remains humble about receiving the Distinguished Service Award. “I am still somewhat overwhelmed by it all,” he said.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 45,000 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. TMA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the association and raises funds to support the public health and science priority initiatives of TMA and the family of medicine.
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