Surgeons seek to kindle students’ interest in profession

San Antonio (Jan. 23, 2004) – The next surgical pioneer could come from San Antonio – a thought not lost on John H. Calhoon, M.D., the chief of thoracic surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. That’s why Dr. Calhoon and three colleagues will take time Monday (Jan. 26) to visit with San Antonio high school students at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and show them the latest surgical gadgetry.

Monday is the first day of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ 40th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, set for Jan. 26-28 at the Convention Center. For an hour at 1:30 p.m. in Convention Hall A, the students will see gee-whiz exhibits ranging from pumps and artificial hearts to robotic surgical technology. Dr. Calhoon will discuss the challenge, but also the fulfillment, of becoming a surgeon.

Dr. Calhoon, who joined the Health Science Center in 1989, is the J. Kent Trinkle Distinguished Professor in the department of surgery. Among his many accomplishments, he has pioneered use of new techniques for correcting congenital heart defects, even in infants just a few days old. The Health Science Center recently appointed him the first holder of the Calhoon President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Surgery, which is named in his family’s honor.

Dr. Calhoon has been called an “artist in the operating room.”

“All students have potential in one field or another, but there are those special youngsters who are inclined to medicine – and to surgery in particular,” he said. “We want to find these future stars and help them get on the fulfilling road to careers as surgeons. We want to tell them what we do and how we got there, and share the thrill of saving a life. Surgery is a great profession, and they can be part of it.”

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has warned that heart surgeons are in short supply. In 2002, the Society noted there were too few medical students applying for heart surgery residencies and some general surgery residencies. It can take nearly a decade to train a heart surgeon. (Source: United Press International article, Aug. 20, 2002)

“South Texas does not have enough surgeons, particularly in the border region, and we want to encourage students from our region to enter the profession and serve this region,” Dr. Calhoon said.

Students will be on hand from Marshall, Taft, O’Connor, Health Careers, Warren and Jay high schools and from the pre-medical program at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Health Science Center and community surgeons Drs. John Calhoon, Marvin Smith, Alfonso Chiscano and Scott Johnson have volunteered to meet with the students.



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