|Michael Wainscott Legacy Award|
Dr. Wainscott graduated from Texas Tech Medical School, was in their first EM residency class and briefly stayed on as faculty. He was TCEP President in 1991. He joined the faculty of UT Southwestern in Dallas and was a major player in the formation of the EM Residency Program in July 1997. In 1998, he took over as Program Director and trained over 200 emergency medicine doctors until he died of natural causes in 2012.
Dr. Wainscott was a gift to humanity, the underserved, to emergency medicine and academia. He unselfishly gave of him self to help those who needed it the most in both in his personal and professional life. He made it a point to identify the unique strengths of all individuals and not focus on their weaknesses. He gave people a chance when few others did not. In his eyes, there was good in all. It seemed that there was nothing Michael wouldn't do for someone else and sometimes had extraordinary ways of doing so. For example, one day he told us he was going to take some time off to help a friend move. We thought, how nice of him and later found out he was helping a friend move to “Thailand”. A mother of four had to return to Mexico. Knowing they would have a more opportunities if they remained in the US, Mike legally adopted all of them and treated them as he was his own. The eldest got her Masters degree and recently transitioned into one of our residency coordinators. She is doing an amazing job and would not be where she is today if it were not for Dr. Wainscott.
He always tried to make everyone feel special, there were no strangers, and made a difference in the lives of many. He always had a special smile, a caring heart, and warm embrace for all of those around him. His ability to focus on the person he was speaking to, to genuinely consider the thoughts and feelings of that person, and to respond in a calm, supportive, yet objective way made him the outstanding teacher, mentor and doctor that he was. He was a huge advocate for anyone who was struggling, be it a friend, family member, another faculty, a medical student or resident, nursing and administrative staff and someone he didn’t even know. For example, we did not appreciate it as much at the time as Mike had some issues with timeliness and procrastination, but there were days in the office where he would have his office doors closed for an extended period of time in what we thought was an “important” meeting and then out would come a medical student, overjoyed with their sincerest gratitude for Wainscott taking the time to help them improve, usually with their applicability to EM for students who were struggling. If you were that resident who struggled in their training, you wanted Wainscott to be your PD – there were a few times over the years where we had a resident graduate who most likely would have never completed their training at another program. He fought for them, helped them find their way to graduate and can proudly say that all have been successful in their careers in emergency medicine. One resident told us that Wainscott was the most influential person in his life and that he would not be where was today without him. Mike loved, loved, loved, his residents.
He was the poster child of professionalism, always wearing a tie during busy Parkland shifts, never raised his voice or seeming angry, a master of communicating and human interactions and simply made people feel better without even trying but because it was his nature and the right thing to do. He was a great role model for how to face challenging situations in the ED with a gracious smile. He possessed a strong virtue of patience, that a soft word could deflate even the most intense situation and that a simple touch on the shoulder could sometimes be more powerful than medicine. Although a relatively new concept, for as long as I knew him, Dr. Wainscott has always practiced and promoted patient and family centered care, embracing the concept that we were providing care for individual patients and had the deepest respect for their individual circumstances. I remember being in the ED and residents would be wondering where he was, only to find him sitting at the bedside, fully engaged in a compassionate conversation with a patient and their significant others trying to figure out a solution to a complicated situation. He was seen many times going out of his way to advocate for the disadvantaged.
He seemed to always have his witty sense of humor and uncanny sense of optimism, even in the face of adversity. Being residency director has its many stressors but no matter how bad things got, he always found a way to small and make the best of things. For example, interview season for any program director is probably the most stressful time of the year. In 2006, his Associate PD was pregnant with twins and his Assistant PD had triplets, and were completely unable to help him with interview season. Mike never complained, was very supportive and still found a way to keep smiling.
I could go on and on about Dr. Wainscott but will stop here. The bottom line is he was always trying to do something good, regardless of the circumstances. We at UT Southwestern are grateful to TCEP that his legacy will wonderfully carry on through this award.