Texas Medical Association (TMA) today installed Edinburg gastroenterologist Carlos
J. Cardenas, MD, as its 152nd president. Outgoing TMA President Don
R. Read, MD, of Dallas installed Dr. Cardenas today during TexMed, the
association’s annual conference.
looking forward to an exciting year of advocacy on behalf of our patients and
my colleagues,” said Dr. Cardenas. “With all of the uncertainty coming out of
Washington, and the instability in the health care arena, I believe
opportunities will present themselves in abundance to drive policy and opinion
in the best interest of our patients and our profession.”
In his 28th
year of practicing gastroenterology, Dr. Cardenas chairs the Rio Grande
Valley’s Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, which he helped found and serves as chief
close to him might say this day was inevitable; Dr. Cardenas grew up observing
strong leadership in his family.
dad is a type AAA personality,” he said. “He was all about community and
community development. If there was a board, he served on it. If he wasn’t just
serving on it, he was chair.
what I learned about leadership, what I learned about community involvement,
what I learned about politics I learned from my dad; that’s where I got it,” he
said in an
in TMA’s Texas Medicine magazine.
his father wasn’t his only leadership role model.
“You have to lead by
example; that’s something I learned from my grandmother, my mom’s mom. I was
the oldest of 17 grandchildren and she used to tell me that I had to set the example
[for the younger children].”
“I think that applies to you in every aspect of
your training when you are becoming a physician,” he added. “You learn very
quickly when you are an intern that you need to follow the example of those who
are more senior than you are, and who know more than you do.” Eventually, he
said, you learn to step up and accept the responsibility as leader of the
health care team, in the name of providing the best patient care.
Sometimes that means rolling up one’s sleeves.
“I learned to never ask anybody to do something
I wasn’t willing to do myself. I was willing to set the tone and to at least
show that I was willing,” he said.
That attitude is partly why he said he is ready
to lead the nation’s largest state medical society during discussions of
undoing the Affordable Care Act and other potential health care changes.
those opportunities arise, our TMA is up to the challenge,” he said. “Bring it
The 33-year TMA member has seized many
opportunities. Dr. Cardenas chaired the association’s Board of Trustees, its
governing body. Prior to joining the Board in 2005, he served five years as a
member of the TMA Council on Legislation, and was legislative chair of the
Border Health Caucus, to which he still belongs. He is a delegate in TMA’s
House of Delegates. Dr. Cardenas also is a member of the TMA Foundation, the
association’s philanthropic arm; a TMA liaison to the Coalition of State
Medical Societies; and is a founding and Patron Club member of TEXPAC, TMA’s
political action committee (on which he also served as a district chair).
Dr. Cardenas regularly advocates on behalf of
medicine and patient care. He attends TMA’s “First Tuesdays at the Capitol”
legislative lobby days each session, has testified numerous times before the
Texas Legislature, and has advised elected officials and policymakers in Texas
and in Washington on health matters.
Dr. Cardenas also was a member of the TMA
Physician Services Organization (PSO) steering committee, which led to the
formation of TMA PracticeEdge, TMA’s PSO. Dr.
Cardenas also served as president of the Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society,
of which he still is a member.
He also appeared several years ago in a series
of informational TMA “Hey, Doc” videos, designed to explain
the new federal Affordable Care Act. TMA produced the videos and other material
to inform patients — and physicians whose patients often turn to for answers — about
how to adapt to the new health law. He also helped lead TMA’s fight for medical
liability reform, which became Texas law in 2003. Doctors in the Rio Grande
Valley and a few other Texas cities planted that seed when they believed
rampant medical liability lawsuits eroded patient care.
“When you get
shot at all the time, when 70 percent or more of your colleagues are named in a
lawsuit or a party to a lawsuit and you can no longer recruit, retain or
attract [physicians] to your community to do what needed to be done for the
health of your community, something had to change,” said Dr. Cardenas. “That
was something that drove me and others in our community to stand up and say, ‘No
more.’ We came together and organized.”
received his medical degree at The University of Texas Medical Branch at
Galveston, and completed his residency training in internal medicine and
gastroenterology at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple. He earned his undergraduate degree from Austin College at Sherman.
In his spare time, he plays charity gigs with several other Rio Grande
Valley physicians in their band, The Renaissance Rockers. “It’s what builds strong community,” he said. “It’s what I call
His grandmother would be proud.
He and his wife of 28 years, Chris
Cardenas, have three sons, Adam R. Cardenas, Simon C. Cardenas, and Daniel
O. Cardenas. His parents are Mr.
Ruben R. Cardenas and Mrs. Dardanella G. Cardenas.
TMA is the largest state
medical society in the nation, representing more than 50,000 physician and
medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 component county
medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to
improve the health of all Texans.
Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512)
650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org