As specialties go, radiology doesn’t seem particularly suited to medical mission work in the developing world. However, the mission-driven approach of Mark Fulmer, MD, Diagnostic Radiology alum (1988), has not only taken him into the top leadership role with one of North Texas’ premier radiology practices, but around the globe to help others.
While the longstanding, faith-based commitment to service of Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, aligns well with Dr. Fulmer’s values, it was reputation and familiarity that led the UT Southwestern Medical School graduate to select Baylor Dallas for his residency.
“The residencies at Baylor Dallas were very highly regarded by all the students at the medical school,” says Dr. Fulmer. “I interviewed a lot of different places but had my heart set on Baylor Dallas.”
Even before learning of Baylor Dallas’ outstanding reputation for graduate medical education, he was familiar with the hospital, since his mother worked as an LVN in Jonsson Hospital when he was in college.
Like all residents, Dr. Fulmer learned many lessons from faculty and attendings, some which have served as pillars of his career:
- The patient always comes first, so focus on doing outstanding clinical work.
- You can’t bluff. If you don’t know something, say you don’t know.
- Chance favors the prepared mind: always be studying and trying to improve.
Other lessons, though, were unforgettable for other reasons, including one lesson regarding manners…and not at the bedside.
While he was rotating through surgery as a medical student, he and his classmates were allowed to go through the physician cafeteria line before morning conference.
“We were all poor as can be, and the cafeteria line had meat,” Dr. Fulmer explains. “So we’d go through the cafeteria line and load up on about a pound-and-a-half of meat each, and we wound up having to get a talking to by Dr. Lichliter. While he was glad we were there and doing a good job, we were only allowed to get one order per person per day.”
And with that, the bounty that was the Baylor Dallas cafeteria quickly came to an end.
Staying Close, Going Far
“One of the really special things about Baylor Dallas is that the trainees are still offered the opportunity to learn as apprentices, meaning that med students, residents, fellows and staff are all on the same team taking care of patients,” explains Dr. Fulmer.
“It’s not a stratified system where the staff docs are doing their own thing and the residents are taking care of patients. It’s a wonderful team-based approach we take at Baylor Dallas, and that began during residency.”
This approach to care made joining the Baylor Dallas medical staff after residency an easy decision. In his 30 years of practice, Dr. Fulmer has achieved key leadership roles on this team. He is only the second radiologist in the more than 100-year history of Baylor Dallas to serve as president of the medical staff.
In addition, he has previously served as president of American Radiology Associates. The group features more than 20 subspecialized radiologists who strive to bring academic quality radiology to the community.
But the title Dr. Fulmer is perhaps most proud of is teacher. “I still get to teach young radiologists about the amazing thing that is modern American medical imaging, and that’s a highlight all the time.”
Another career highlight is the mission work that has taken him across the world to Siberia, Moscow, Ukraine and Thailand. Medical mission work is evolving from the days when it was a doctor in a hut with whatever supplies he or she might be able to carry. Many developing nations are able to acquire a limited amount of imaging equipment, but may not have the expertise to fully use it.
“I have had the opportunity to go places and collaborate to put on educational seminars for other radiologists and clinicians in the community,” explains Dr. Fulmer. “I give talks. They ask questions. Then we discuss our field as equals, learning from one another.”
These opportunities have helped deliver or improve care in areas of the world where only one MRI machine may have to serve a population of millions. They also have helped open the door to sharing his other passion – his Christian faith.
“Because I’ve been at Baylor Dallas, where medical education is woven into all that we do, I’m able to do medical education in the field,” he says.
A New World
Though a veteran of radiology practice, Dr. Fulmer is more excited than ever about where the field is headed. “Medical imaging is moving more and more toward very refined physiologic imaging, so we can take pictures of and measure physiologic processes.”
Additionally, it is continuing to become a more global enterprise and not simply reserved for wealthy nations. He sees tremendous opportunity in this new reality as there is a lack of expertise in many nations and regions of the world acquiring MRIs, CTs and other advanced imaging equipment for the first time.
“I would love for Baylor Dallas to be a national leader in helping train physicians and clinicians in the developing world,” says Dr. Fulmer.
And if Baylor Dallas does fill this vacuum, there is one radiologist on the medical staff who would be a perfect fit to lead this noble effort.