For Dr. Sue Bornstein, becoming an internal medicine physician was simply a matter of entering the family business. A native of Dallas (and a Baylor baby), her father was an internal medicine physician on the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas (BUMC) medical staff, so she was quite familiar with the Baylor brand even before entering medical school at Texas Tech University Health Science Center.
But familiarity wasn’t the main impetus behind choosing BUMC for her internal medicine residency. “I did a fourth year clinical rotation at BUMC, and I just knew it was the right place for me,” explains Dr. Bornstein.
Her decision to enter the BUMC Graduate Medical Education program not only prepared her for a career in medicine marked with much success, but would eventually land her in the BUMC history books.
Dr. Bornstein cites the relatively small size of the internal medicine residency, the urban location, the research capabilities and the fact that all her teachers were also practicing physicians as being critical factors in making the BUMC Internal Medicine Residency such a strong program…and the right one for her.
“The faculty was always accessible,” she says. “If we ever had a question about a patient, there was always someone there to help us.”
One of the highlights she remembers from her training was the Continuity Clinic. From the first months of training, internal medicine residents were assigned patients who they cared for through graduation and, in some cases, after entering private practice. While there was an attending closely monitoring patient care, Dr. Bornstein says that she and her fellow residents viewed these patients as their own.
“They were really our patients,” she recalls. “I started to understand and value the relationship internists can develop with their patients.”
A Leader First
After graduating, Dr. Bornstein went into private practice and became a member of the BUMC medical staff. In 2005, she was elected as the first female president of the BUMC medical staff in the medical center’s 100-plus year history.
“Making the transition from resident to young attending to be elected as leader of the medical staff by my peers – some of whom were my former teachers – was really wonderful,” she says.
Besides leading the BUMC medical staff, Dr. Bornstein has risen to prominence in the American College of Physician (ACP). After serving as an ACP governor for four years, she recently became a regent – part of the ACP’s governing board overseeing policy positions for the organization which boasts more than 145,000 physician members nationwide.
Spreading Her Wings
While still based in Dallas, Dr. Bornstein has left the BUMC medical staff and taken her career in a new direction. But a direction that is very much tied to the experiences she had at BUMC as a resident.
She is the executive director of the Texas Medical Home Initiative (TMHI). THMI is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping primary care physician practices implement the patient-centered medical home model of care, which attempts to address access and quality of care issues largely through teamwork and coordination.
“From the doctors to the nurses to everyone involved in the care of a patient at BUMC that I saw during training made me realize how important care teams truly are,” says Dr. Bornstein. “That probably translates more than just about anything into the work I do today with patient centered medical homes.”