Houston Doctor Wins TMA’s Highest Honor

May 2, 2014

Alan C. Baum, MDAlan 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 award.

“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 care.      

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 Association.

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 their doctor.

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. 


Contact: Pam Udall (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 413-6807; email: pam.udall[at]texmed[dot]org
Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org  

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Last Updated On

July 06, 2016