In addition to two years as interim chair, that makes it 27 years of leading the Urology Department at Tulane University School of Medicine. What strikes me as rather humbling is the ability to have worked with stalwart faculty — Drs. James Roberts, Ron Lewis, Gary Frentz, Rodney Davis, and Wayne Hellstrom come to mind, along with so many others through the years. Any department is only as strong as its faculty’s talents in education, research, and practice. A particular shout-out goes to my former Chairman, Dr. Blackwell B. Evans for mentoring me on leadership roles to prepare me for the Chair’s responsibilities. I want to thank all the faculty who have been part of Tulane Urology over the past 27 years for their incredible devotion to teaching and team spirit. Some of you have moved forward and have moved on to significant leadership positions. A sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart.
Two particular events have had a meaningful impression on my leadership skills. The first was the literal shutdown of our department on August 29, 2005, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. This dilemma had never been witnessed by any other Chair in the history of the AUA and it required an unscripted and unrehearsed move forward to identify what was next for our eight residents, as well as the fellow and faculty. All in all, over the next three years, we were able to gradually, but completely, rebuild and emerge even stronger. Once again, our faculty and residents persevered.
The second event, the COVID-19 crisis, was an emergency of a different nature. Though we were not shut down completely, new adjustments were needed. Once again, the faculty and residents pitched in and we were able to tide over the challenges that COVID-19 posed to our entire team’s well-being. Moreover, it affected the ability of our residents and faculty to have access to patient care. This tested our skills, but we are riding this COVID-19 challenge as best as can be expected.
Establishing Tulane Urology as a force in the Southeast and, perhaps, nationally came through in the arena of minimally invasive surgery and men’s health. The minimally invasive access for surgical procedures could not have been possible without the Tulane Medical Center’s administration getting behind our idea of expanding our percutaneous renal access and ureteroscopy to the urologic laparoscopy platform. This set up our foray into the first Da Vinci robotic platform in the Gulf South. It was with much pride and joy that I performed the first robotic procedure (pyeloplasty) in the region in 2002. These minimally invasive approaches have brought in an incredible referral pattern, which we hope to sustain for our residency program. A big thanks to the all in the Dean’s and CEO’s office for the continued support.
From having zero residents in 2006 to now having a vibrant total of 15, one cannot look back without noting the great strides our residency program has made. We continue to follow RRC/ACGME guidelines to ensure that our residents receive cutting-edge surgical research and educational experience. Having been in urology for well over 40 years, it has been extremely stimulating, challenging, and invigorating, and I feel a sense of pride in having worked with several generations of residents. Each decade brings with itself a different skillset, attitude, and challenges. I must say that one of the most valuable and cherished part of my leadership has been working with residents. It is so gratifying to see all of them, all around the country and beyond, who are so successful in their careers. Keeping in touch with many of our alumni over the years is indeed a source of joy and satisfaction. It is really the residents who have steered me along our path of excellence.
I also have to particularly thank our family of referring urologists over the past 25+ years who have entrusted complex patients to me and my team. We could not be here without your trust and faith.
In the interim, the landscape of practicing urology has changed markedly. We have become more of a minimally invasive specialty, taking care of additional diagnoses such as advanced renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, complex kidney stones, etc. The urologic care upgrades in our state have been remarkable, especially with the infusion of new talent, which I hope will continue to be fostered in the robust meetings of the Louisiana Urologic Society and the Southeastern Section and the AUA.
Also, as the upcoming president of the AUA, I am humbled by the support I have received from each of you. I very much look forward to my new leadership role in our parent organization.
Nothing would have been possible during these past 25 years, and before, without the dedication of my wife, Ginny, and family, as well as the multiple staff in the medical school. The nursing staff, particularly Virginia Lewis, has been a formidable ally on our patient care front.
Everyone whom I have had contact with has been a positive force in our mission to excel in education, in research, and in patient care. Such a tremendous job cannot be done by one person and it is the entire team that deserves credit. The “thank you” list could go on and on.
Thanks to all for making the past 25 years as memorable as it has been, and I look forward to keeping the mission going.