Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards
Patient and Family Recognition Award
Hugh McClung, M.D.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Listening to the patient is essential to clinical excellence, and few are as skilled at it as Dr. McClung. He provides a deeply humanistic approach to internal medicine, understanding that patients need emotional support as well as an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
His distinguished career has always blended a commitment to clinical expertise with elements of the latest research and intense attention to detail – all in the service of solving the health care puzzles of his patients.
Dr. McClung completed his internal medicine internship and residency at UT Southwestern in 1981, following medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. His practice is focused on adult preventive medicine, and in 2018, he became the inaugural holder of the Margaret Jonsson Rogers Chair in Clinical Excellence, which was established in his honor.
Also in 2018, he was named a Super Doctor by Texas Monthly, a distinction that simply confirms what his patients have known for 40 years. He always goes the extra mile. When a patient receives a diagnosis or has a serious problem, he’ll follow up with a phone call to check on how he or she is coping.
It’s just another reminder that Dr. McClung is always ready to listen to his patients.
In his words: “This award means the world to me as an internal medicine clinician. It also means that I have a lot of mentors and friends to thank. In the very early years without patient referrals from Dr. Luis Leib, I would have never paid the rent. It was Drs. Brian Baldwin, Joe Viroslav, and Allen Rubin who instilled in me a love for clinical diagnosis and set the path for my career. More recently, Drs. Daniel K. Podolsky, Willis Maddrey, Mack Mitchell, and Scott Sager have been a huge and frequent encouragement to me. I owe a debt of gratitude to each of these men.”
Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Hugh McClung
Pamela Okada, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director, Emergency Department at Children’s Medical Center Plano
Even in the most frantic emergency room situations, Dr. Okada takes time to establish a connection with patients and their families. Like when a parent brought their 2-week-old into the ER with difficulty breathing and the child had to be put on life support. The distraught parent recalls Dr. Okada kneeling down to make eye contact with her and provide comfort. She gently explained the facts of the case, with the kind of compassion that has become her hallmark at UT Southwestern.
Dr. Okada’s colleagues say she has a gift for making everybody feel comfortable – from trainees and co-workers to – most importantly – patients and families. She is upbeat and insightful, and families appreciate her expertise and focused attention.
After completing her residency and fellowship at UCLA, she arrived at UT Southwestern in 1994 for a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship, determined to deliver empathy and expert care. Now, as a Professor of Pediatrics at UT Southwestern and the Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Medical Center Plano, Dr. Okada embodies the mantra that “we can make a difference in people’s lives.” Dr. Okada is also the Associate Program Director of the Pediatric Residency Program, and she extends to her trainees the same kindness and empathy she brings to her interactions with patients and their families.
In her words: “I am truly humbled to receive this award. Caring for the critically ill or injured child takes a team – and I am surrounded by the most skilled, compassionate, and dedicated team of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, technicians, and more. Together we provide compassionate, patient-centered, evidence-based care for infants and children of North Texas. I am grateful to be part of this amazing team within the Emergency Department at UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Plano.”
Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Pamela Okada
Ashley Hickman Zink, M.D.
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
As a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, Dr. Zink sees firsthand the anxiety of patients and their families when a pregnancy becomes high risk. But she is always there to attend to their emotional needs and forge close bonds. In fact, developing relationships with patients and families is what she loves most about her job.
Her patient clinic in Plano has received the Clinic of the Month award more than 10 times, and if a referring provider calls and requests that a patient be seen for a newly discovered diagnosis or fetal anomaly, Dr. Zink will always see the patient that same day. Or, as she puts it, “We are happy to help.” She is committed to getting answers for apprehensive patients as quickly as possible.
After earning her medical degree and completing her obstetrics and gynecology residency at UT Southwestern, she completed a three-year maternal-fetal medicine fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010.
As a perinatologist, Dr. Zink works closely with patients’ primary obstetricians and subspecialists at Children’s Medical Center. Together, they develop strategies to help high-risk expectant mothers have a healthy pregnancy. When those stressful moments arise, which they inevitably do, Dr. Zink provides a calm, confident, and compassionate voice amid all the emotional turmoil.
In her words: “This recognition is truly for my whole office. I’m grateful to work with a team that is committed to a culture of caring for patients in the way they would want to be treated.”