In her 15-year-plus career as a physician-educator, Baylor College of Medicine’s Dr. Martha Mims has discovered what it means to be a physician: striving to learn and serve patients with that knowledge, prioritizing patient care and training above personal gain, and ensuring that every patient has access to high quality care.

So upon receiving this year's Ben and Margaret Love Foundation Bobby Alford Award for Academic Clinical Professionalism, Mims feels compelled to honor the physicians who trained her and served as examples of what it means to be called to a profession dedicated to serving others.

"I am very grateful to be nominated for the Love Foundation Award, in large part because the award pays tribute to the physicians who trained me," said Mims.

A 1998 M.D. graduate of BCM, Mims also completed internal medicine residency, fellowship (hematology and oncology) and a postdoctoral fellowship at BCM.

Providing highest quality care

"Early in my career when the amount to learn seemed overwhelming, Dr. John Farmer (professor of medicine ­ cardiology at BCM) told me that you do not have to be particularly smart to be a good physician, but you do have to be diligent and willing to spend the time it takes to provide good care,"said Mims. "We owe it to the patients who trust us with their health to be attentive to every detail."

With trainees and younger physicians, Mims strives to model this behavior by being willing to do anything she would ask them to do ­ stay late, come early and miss important events if patient care demands.

Now chief of the hematology and oncology section in the NCI-designated Dan L Duncan Cancer Center at BCM, Mims’ medical career has largely focused on providing care to under- and uninsured patients at Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital and now Smith Clinic, the health system’s new outpatient facility.

"I am grateful to have a career that allows me to serve others, and I try and instill this sense of appreciation in the students, residents and fellows who train with me," said Mims, also an associate professor of medicine at BCM.

Improving inequities in health care

A huge goal for Mims from the early days of her training has been improving inequities in health care. "My early training at BCM in both public and private venues focused my attention on inequities in healthcare," said Mims. "I was particularly struck by the fact that the hematology/oncology patients in the public venues presented with advanced disease, and we did not have the tools to treat them adequately. I am drawn to caring for these patients and trying to improve their access to health care and the level of treatment they receive."

Through BCM’s partnership with Harris Health System, Mims is proud to say that access has improved, noting the creation of a large inpatient unit dedicated to hematology and oncology at Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital and access to cutting edge treatments through clinical trials and the most advanced resources in diagnostic imaging.

Mims recognized several physicians at BCM who have had and continue to have a significant impact on her “internal sense of what it means to be a physician,” including:

"Dr. Rush Lynch, who is tireless in his drive to care for patients and to know all there is in oncology." Lynch is a professor of medicine ­ hematology/oncology at BCM.

"Dr. Venkata Bandi, who has trained hundreds of residents in the MICU at Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital and never once complained about a late night or an early morning overseeing a procedure or responding to an emergency." Bandi is an associate professor of medicine ­ pulmonary at BCM, director, MICU, Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital.

"Dr. George Carrum, who sees the good in everyone and diligently advocates for his patients without regard to age, race or personality." Carrum is an associate professor in the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at BCM, Texas Children’s Hospital and The Methodist Hospital.

Mims will be presented with the award August 9 at the White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students.