Dr. Daniel Musher joined Baylor College of Medicine in 1971 as an infectious disease specialist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was intrigued by the concept that fully integrated the veterans’ hospital into the teaching system at Baylor. Forty-plus years later, he said the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center offers the right environment for teaching and learning, and for exemplary patient care.
Hailing from the Northeast, Musher admits that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the veterans hospitals in that part of the country were not considered to be on the same level as academic and other medical centers. It was a different story in Houston. Musher learned of the history of the VA here, where Dr. DeBakey had served as chief surgeon and spearheaded the affiliation that allowed Baylor to staff the hospital and establish a residency program.
“The VA in Houston was a spectacular place that offered me the opportunity to see patients, teach and conduct research,” said Musher, Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Medicine at Baylor who served as infectious disease section chief at the VA from 1971 to 2012.
With all medical students and residents rotating through the VA, it’s a good setting for training, especially for residents, Musher said.
“It’s an excellent climate for learning and teaching. Residents take care of patients while receiving just the right amount of supervision from attending physicians,” Musher said. “Our patients are generally cooperative and interested in their care and, importantly, we involve the patient in the discussion of their care, and this adds to the learning opportunities,” said Musher, who during his tenure at Baylor has been honored with the Barbara and Corbin J. Robertson Presidential Award for Excellence in Education, the John P. McGovern Outstanding Teaching Award, the Baylor Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award and election to the Baylor Hall of Fame for Excellence in Teaching.
There also is a strong research component, and this makes for better doctors and teachers, Musher added. His recent research has focused on pneumococcal pneumonia, particularly the study of why some people develop pneumonia due to Streptococcus pneumoniae and others do not, and how vaccines work to stimulate immunity to it.
The level of teaching and research that goes on at the VA leads to the highest quality patient care, Musher said. “In my opinion, the average veteran receives better medical care in Houston than do most patients in private care,” he said."