The director of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s Center for Neurogastroenterology and Gastrointestinal (GI) Motility was elected to two prestigious medical advocacy groups earlier this year.
In January, Richard McCallum, M.D., professor and founding chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, was elected as a member of the Academic Physicians Section of the American Medical Association (AMA). On Feb. 10, he began his term as president of the El Paso County Medical Society.
In addition to this role as president, he serves as a delegate to the Texas Medical Association. Both organizations inform the public and lawmakers of the needs and practices of the medical community so El Paso and Texas physicians are prepared to offer the best care to patients.
Dr. McCallum was encouraged to join the Academic Physicians Section of the AMA by past chair J. Manuel de la Rosa, M.D., vice president for Outreach and Community Engagement at TTUHSC El Paso. The AMA represents the interests of physicians across the country to lawmakers and courts with the goal of making patient care easier.
Dr. McCallum believes his and Dr. de la Rosa’s involvement in this well-recognized national group will enhance TTUHSC El Paso’s national presence and better represent the interests of faculty and the university’s clinical practice, Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, where faculty members deliver world-class patient care.
“We’re now serving alongside representatives from some of the largest and most prestigious universities in the nation,” Dr. McCallum said. “We’re doing everything we need to do to bring TTUHSC El Paso to the national forefront.”
Dr. McCallum said his involvement with the AMA and as a delegate for the Texas Medical Association will allow him to make the most of his one-year term as the president of the El Paso County Medical Society. He added that he’s only the second president to come from academic medicine, and he hopes to also attract more TTUHSC El Paso faculty to join.
“I’m trying to be engaged and meaningfully involved at all three levels; local, state and national. At the local level, I’m working to meet El Paso’s needs and address challenges specific to the border,” Dr. McCallum said.
“There are issues that trickle down to El Paso from the state and national level, but unless you’re engaged on all fronts, you don’t really have an impact. In El Paso, we can only have an impact by joining together with other counties and engaging with the Texas Legislature.”
Being engaged on all three levels also has benefits for TTUHSC El Paso and TTP El Paso.
“I want to integrate what I hear at the national and state levels with my work here at TTUHSC El Paso,” Dr. McCallum said. “My goal is to help El Paso by understanding what the national trends mean for us. How can national issues affect us, and what measures can we take to be ahead of the game?”
Dr. McCallum said some of his goals for this year include trying to increase attendance at El Paso County Medical Society meetings via virtual video, and invite more guests to share their health care expertise and perspectives.
TTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., acts as a consultant and attends the monthly meetings. Another goal is to make the society the trusted medical resource for local elected officials. He said the group has established a dialogue with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser.
Over the past year, the El Paso County Medical Society distributed close to $3 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) throughout El Paso. It was an initiative of the society’s executive director, Patsy Slaughter, her assistant Elsa Chaparro, and previous president Alison Days, M.D. Dr. McCallum said many TTUHSC El Paso students volunteered to pack and even distribute the PPE themselves. As president, he plans on continuing the program.
“Everyone here has made the extra effort and donated hours of their own time,” Dr. McCallum said. “It’s a time of challenge, and we’re all trying to step up and make sure we can make good decisions.”