El Paso Physician Wins TMA International Medical Graduate Award

April 29, 2021

The Texas Medical Association International Medical Graduate (TMA IMG) Section recognized Gilberto A. Handal, MD, of El Paso, with the IMG Section Outstanding Physician Award today for his dedication to improving the health of his community outside his medical practice. The TMA House of Delegates announced the award during TexMed, TMA’s annual conference, held virtually

Gilberto A. Handal MD “America offers everyone the opportunity to fulfill his or her dreams; all it takes is a positive outlook, integrity, honesty, and hard work,” said Dr. Handal. “I always have had a clear view that I will return as much as I can of what I have received. My ideals have always been to contribute to make our families and children better and aspire to meet their ideals. To be recognized by your peers is the greatest award I could have expected.” 

Patsy Slaughter, the  El Paso County Medical Society executive director, nominated Dr. Handal for the award. She said his 40-year involvement with the society is unparalleled. “Dr. Handal is an amazing individual and physician,” she said. The physician was the medical society’s president and served on its executive committee. “He is very dedicated to this community, the children of the community, and the children of Texas,” said Ms. Slaughter.

A pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Handal is a founder and three-time board president of the  Advocacy Center for the Children of El Paso. The center is a nationally accredited nonprofit organization that for 25 years has advocated for child victims of severe physical and/or sexual abuse.

Dr. Handal also volunteers for the school health advisory councils of almost every school district in El Paso, to strengthen the connection between health and learning. He developed school-based medical care clinics in five districts, and provided education and training to nursing and educational staff in most of those clinics. In addition to helping improve the health of El Paso’s youth, he served six years on the  National Board of the School-Based Health Alliance.

Dr. Handal’s commitment to public health covers El Paso and beyond. He developed binational programs for primary and secondary care on the U.S.-Mexico border, working alongside pediatricians and general practitioners in Ciudad Juarez to increase 93,000 families’ access to better quality health care. Dr. Handal helped develop protocols for medical clinics in Mexico. He also helped Mexican physicians establish and advance laboratories and medical education programs.

The pediatrician restarted the El Paso Pediatric Society and led the group for years. He also worked with the Texas Pediatric Society. 

Ms. Slaughter said she is “honored” to have worked alongside Dr. Handal for nearly 25 years. “He never ceases to amaze me with his dedication, energy, and ideas,” she said. “He is a true humanitarian and advocate for children, El Paso, and Texas.”

Dr. Handal is a councilor on  TMA’s Board of Councilors, the association’s ethical policymaking body, and is a consultant to the TMA Committee on Infectious Diseases. He is a former executive committee member for  TEXPAC, the association’s political action committee, and chaired the TMA Committee on Child and Adolescent Health. He also is a member of TMA’s Border Health Caucus.

Jayesh B. Shah, MD, a member of the TMA Board of Trustees, said Dr. Handal has worked tirelessly for Texans during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Honoring Dr. Gilberto Handal is like honoring IMGs’ invaluable contributions to health care, who mostly work in rural and underserved areas and provide much-needed access to vulnerable Texas patients,” he said.

Dr. Handal received his medical degree from The University of Chile School of Medicine and has practiced medicine for 51 years. He devotes his time to academia and research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.  

IMG physicians are an essential part of the physician workforce in Texas. One in four U.S. physicians are graduates of medical schools outside the United States.  

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 55,000 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.

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Contact:  Brent Annear  (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320

 Marcus Cooper  (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336

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Last Updated On

April 30, 2021

Originally Published On

April 29, 2021

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