Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards

Patient and Family Recognition Award

This award honors clinical faculty whose dedication to the compassionate, respectful delivery of exceptional patient care has garnered the highest degree of patient trust and satisfaction.

The 2019 Winners:

Daniel Costa, M.D.

Associate Professor of Radiology
Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Costa is a radiologist who excels at both diagnostic skills and direct patient care. A nationally recognized researcher in the field of prostate cancer, he also has a gift for making patients and their families feel valued, comfortable, and heard. Colleagues say he treats every patient as if he or she were a family member, and the many thank-you notes he receives are a testament to his devotion and kind demeanor.

At the University of São Paulo in Brazil, Dr. Costa earned his medical degree and also completed his residency in radiology and a fellowship in abdominal imaging. He received additional advanced training in body MRI through a fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston before joining UT Southwestern in 2011.

Dr. Costa’s approach represents the future of patient care in radiology in many ways. His clinical and research efforts are unrivaled, but he is also the consummate team player. He has an extraordinary rapport with colleagues and referring physicians, and he has been instrumental in the development of the prostate cancer program at UT Southwestern into one of the top programs in the country. His compassion, collaboration, and clinical excellence help set the standard for our institution. 

In his words: “It is such an honor and responsibility to receive this award. For a radiologist, this recognition based on the relationship with patients and families is particularly gratifying. This was only possible because I am blessed to work in an open-minded environment that fosters a multidisciplinary effort to provide the best care and experience possible to every patient. I know I frequently get credit for the work of others, from schedulers to nurses, technologists, and other physicians. Being able to help our patients while working with my colleagues is the best reward one can get, and I am grateful for that every day.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Daniel Costa

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.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Ashley Hickman Zink