School of Medicine graduate Victoria Ann Shepard received this year’s prestigious Gold-Headed Cane Award—the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating medical student.
The nominees are selected by their peers in the graduating class, and the award recognizes extraordinary dedication to the health and welfare of patients. Being nominated for this award is an honor in itself, and honorable mention is given to the finalists.
The Gold-Headed Cane Award has a long tradition at UTMB. Dr. Charles T. Stone Sr., professor emeritus of Internal Medicine, established the award in 1960. A gold ring engraved with the newest recipient’s name is added to the staff of the cane to commemorate the occasion. The cane is on permanent display in the Moody Medical Library; recipients receive a replica.
The UTMB tradition honors the 18th century practice of presenting a gold-headed cane to the preeminent physician in English society. One such cane was continuously carried from 1689 to 1825 by five distinguished British physicians and now resides in the Royal College of Physicians in London.
2016 Gold-Headed Cane Award Winner
Victoria Ann Shepard
“While working in the Big Bend area as a Family Medicine student, I felt like I was part of the working heart of the community. I stay connected to this feeling through my work at the C.D. Doyle Clinic in downtown Austin, through which I have developed long-term patient-caregiver relationships with people who are currently homeless. In the future, I envision working with a community in need while continuing to become a better informed, more capable and compassionate primary caregiver. I look forward to fulfilling these aspirations through a career in Family Medicine.”
2016 Gold-Headed Cane Award Finalists
Tracy Lynn Cable
“My UTMB education has taught me a lot about how to be a doctor and how to provide high-quality health care to patients. I learned dedication to the health and welfare of patients. I learned about taking a history, performing a physical exam, formulating a diagnosis, then forming a management and a treatment plan. Great! There are, of course, other services beyond that that patients need, too. I learned about providing emotional support, counseling, lifestyle coaching, motivational interviewing and breaking bad news. All good tools to keep in mind for delivering good patient care. But I learned there are still other things patients need on top of that to heal and get better.”
Jessica Lauren Tedford
“The opportunity for continuity of care and the ability to impact a patient’s life by creating long-term relationships is what I enjoyed the most about my rotation in Family Medicine. Additionally, it is something I hope to pursue as a flight surgeon in the Navy. Motivated by the patient diversity I experienced during my clerkship in Family Medicine and the unique medical problems encountered in aviation and space medicine, my curiosity and sense of wonder grows daily. I want to continue to learn more about every discipline of medicine as I feel a strong desire to learn as much as I can to promote health of mind, body and spirit in my patients.”
Abigail Charlotte Watts
“I aspire to pursue Internal Medicine because I am searching for an outlet for my humane instincts, my passion for interacting with others, a natural affinity for teaching and my desire to be stimulated and challenged every day in my chosen career. I long for a career that demonstrates the harmonic convergence of my greatest interests: education, service of others, research and cultural diversity.”
Nicholas Ernest Wilhelm
“Throughout my medical education I made the conscious decision to always be empathetic toward my patients and peers. Although I am continually fascinated by the science of medicine, my passion is in using that knowledge to help people make informed decisions within the context of their own life. In my opinion, a healer is someone who not only helps cure a person’s physical ailments but is also able to provide comfort and guidance. Family Medicine, because of its emphasis on the holistic aspects of medical care, is best suited to this concept. It offers intergenerational, family-centered care and has a strong emphasis on preventive health care.”