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The Health Science Center has trained many distinguished physicians, including a state health commissioner. Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, who took the reins Nov. 1 as Texas commissioner of health, completed his resident physician training in UTHSC's department of family and community medicine.
He was a resident from July 1988 to June 1991. "Many of our faculty remember him well," said Dr. Carlos R. Jaén, professor and chair of family and community medicine. "This is an example of how, over the years, our Health Science Center has helped train health care leaders for Texas."
"His selection as commissioner is quite a plum for the school, the residency program and the city," said Dr. Leonard Paul, chairman emeritus of family and community medicine. He recalled that Dr. Sanchez was named chief resident, a position in which he demonstrated considerable leadership ability while working with the program's 35 other residents. "He was very articulate and easy to approach," Dr. Paul said. "It was very enjoyable to see his interest in patients — a concern that proceeded from the first time he met them. To Dr. Sanchez, patients are more than their diagnoses."
Elia Ortiz, one of the assistant residency program directors, said: "I knew he would succeed. I was one of the people who interviewed him. At that time, he was an outstanding young man with a lot of potential. He had postponed going to medical school for a year so he could teach math in the Dominican Republic. It caught my attention. When we spoke about his goals as a physician, his main concern was that patients be treated with respect and dignity.
"I've been with the residency program for 29 years and have seen a lot of applicants. But he stands out. I still remember him."
Dr. Sanchez is fluent in Spanish and English. After completing the UTHSC residency program, he was a part-time faculty member in family and community medicine while completing his master of public health degree from the UT Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio.
A native of Vermont, Dr. Sanchez received bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees from Boston University, including his B.S. summa cum laude. He completed medical school at the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "Early on, he was interested in community health programs," Dr. Paul said. "During his undergraduate education, he spent time in Brownsville in the Rio Grande Valley in a public health program. By the time he reached residency here, his interest in community health was very firmly established."