The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

UTRGV School of Medicine

"One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings." - Carl Jung

Words that are a fitting trib­ute to a man whose work on behalf of the health of the communities of the Rio Grande Valley will not be forgotten. That man is Dr. Ken Shine, special advisor to the chancel­lor of The University of Texas System.

When young doctors are in training, they go through medical school and residency training. At the end of residen­cy, they can get further training as a “fellow,” or fellowship train­ing. In my case, I completed a fellowship in Psychosomatic Medicine – the psychiatry of the medically and surgically ill – at the Massachusetts General Hospital. That completed my subspecialty interests, it but not the end of my training, as I have continued to learn in areas like oncology, pain management, thanatology, end-of-life com­munication, delirium, spiritually integrated psychotherapy, and HIV/HCV integrated care.

But the best postdoctoral training I have had is what I refer to as my one-year fellowship training in “fellowship,” in my car, with the man we are honoring – Dr. Shine – who is retiring at the end of June.

What exactly did I learn in my car? Dr. Shine may or may not agree with me, but I learned these three things:

  • Education is made for the student, not the reverse.
  • Academics, scholarship, research, innovation, and science exist for the curious, the seekers, and the thirsters for discovery, not the reverse.
  • Service, hospitals, clinics, ACOs, and health care networks exist for the sick, not the reverse.

One could ask, “Why, as a doctor in training, did I not learn these things before?” Well, maybe the seeds were already there, but were brought to life by the man who exemplifies physicianhood in every way I know. In fact, most of his influence on me occurred in my car, while driving from Brownsville to Edinburg and back.

Whether it is his work on Code Red, leading the American Heart Association, transforming the landscape of contemporary medicine while at the Institute of Medicine or establishing the groundwork for the field of psychocardiology (in fact doing so at the Massachusetts Gen­eral Hospital with my mentors in my fellowship), Dr. Shine, by any measure, has left a lasting influence on many in the country and the world, but most of all in the Rio Grande Valley.

Ken’s presence in the Valley will be felt forever. But for me personally, his presence was inspirational. No matter the task at hand, he made it more of a pleasure to come to do the work while making me feel that I mattered, was respected and cared about, and was inclusive of making sure I got enough rest and sleep.

Oh, and last thing I learned from Ken is, if you are going to have a grandote (big guy) riding in one’s car through the Val­ley, one needs a bigger car. So my final lesson was, “You are in Texas now – GET A TEXAS-SIZE CAR!”

Bravo to Dr. Ken “Brillante” Shine – a good citizen and friend of the Rio Grande Valley!

If I had to grade him as a fellowship director, this is how I would rate Ken:

  • Reputation as a team player, generosity, evidence of sacrifice of personal time, credit to total project … A+
  • Teaching quality as judged from learners (grades, teacher ratings, and subsequent contributions to teaching, research, the community, etc.) ... A+
  • Mentorship, as judged from success of mentees and the quality of their work and their values ... A+
  • Industry as measured by total work hours per week, percent of contracted work hours actually worked, productivity, value, and quality of work per hour of work put in ... A+
  • Contribution to the overall positive spirit in the work place and beyond ... A+

Dr. Francisco Fernandez
Inaugural Dean, School of Medicine and Vice President for Medical Affairs