UTMB has had a long history and culture of training excellent internists. I wish to address, however, a particular era of UTMB Internal Medicine. The UTMB faculty in the mid-1960’s was rather young and proactive as was the administration. The department had competent and committed clinical faculty, clinicians and teachers, in almost every division, but lacked depth.
Dr. Deiss, front center, and the Housestaff, 1977
I was just out of my fellowship in 1968 when Dr. William P. Deiss became chairman (in reality, he was also "junior" chronologically). Dr. Deiss was recruited to lead and develop the department into a national leader. He quickly recruited other committed clinicians ( and investigators). The medical school was in the midst of a major curriculum revision when he came. Somehow I was asked to chair a group to develop a new pre-clinical course, called "Introduction to Clinical Medicine, ICM". I mention this because ultimately it allowed me to identify students with outstanding qualities and potential at an early stage. I told Dr. Deiss and other faculty members about these great students so that the faculty could provide “career counseling” and a role. From the early 1970's through the 1980's many of the best UTMB graduates entered internal medicine training at UTMB. The residency program flourished and soon graduates from other medical schools sought and obtained positions at UTMB.
The graduates who entered the program were already wonderful people, committed to learning and to medicine. They became great physicians because of the principles continuously promoted and inculcated by Dr. Deiss. The faculty recognized what Dr. Deiss was doing and followed his example. These Deiss residents went on to became pillars of the practice of medicine and leadership throughout the state and beyond.
The major reason I am writing this at this time is that I recently experienced a serious illness and was attended by Deiss trainees. The skill, compassion, knowledge, professionalism, and caring attitudes learned in the 70's and 80's at UTMB under the influence of Dr. Deiss was evident. I recognized Deiss traits in these physicians. For example, the history, physical examination and accurate collection of data were paramount. When they listened to my chest or heart, they did not do it through my gown. My physician even checked for pectoriloquy appropriately.
In many respects, I am able to write this because of the UTMB Internal Medicine alumni of the 1970's and 80's.
Dr. James C. Guckian
Special Consultant to the UTMB Chairman of Medicine
*Editor's note: UTMB alumni Drs. Ace Alsup, Jack Bissett, Scott Ream and Robert Askew, Jr. were four of Dr. Guckian's attending physicians during his recent illness.
Dr. William Deiss was a physician-educator who guided the Department of Internal Medicine from 1968 to 1984. The William Deiss Society was established for alumni and other friends to contribute to the department of Internal Medicine and reflect on the legacy of UTMB's finest by connecting Dr. Deiss's name with efforts to enlist philanthropic support for the department's future.