Leaders in Clinical Excellence Awards

Institutional Service Award

This award honors clinical faculty who consistently share time and expertise in service to internal committees, task forces, and other institutional activities that make a significant impact on the care delivered to UT Southwestern patients.

See our Past Clinical Excellence Award Winners

The 2021 Winners:

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James D. Griffin, M.D.

Professor of Anesthesiology & Pain Management

Dr. Griffin has built a record of institutional service at UTSW that is both expansive and distinguished. Over the course of three decades, first as a medical student and resident, and now as a faculty member, Dr. Griffin has served on nearly 50 committees and task forces at UTSW, including the Medical School Admissions Committee for 22 years, the Southwestern Academy of Teachers, and numerous hospital-based committees at Zale Lipshy Pavilion and Parkland Health & Hospital System.

His career at UTSW includes serving as Director of Medical Student and Resident Education for Anesthesiology and terms as Chief of Service for Anesthesiology, first at Zale Lipshy and now at Parkland, where he is responsible for anesthesiology care across the Parkland clinical footprint. Wherever he has served, colleagues and students have observed his passion, conviction, and perseverance. They also see him as a team builder. “Dr. Griffin often uses the first-person plural ‘we’ rather than ‘I,’” noted one colleague, reinforcing the idea that all can make a positive contribution. It’s a technique he has used for decades.

Dr. Griffin’s many contributions include the establishment of the Parkland Anesthesiology Executive Leadership (PANEL) group, which was created to serve as a forum for leadership development and thought exchange on common clinical and administrative challenges. In addition, he has been a leader in addressing the global opioid crisis, becoming an early adopter and advocate of non-opioid analgesics in the practice of anesthesiology and pain management. Today, he is regarded as an expert in this area of practice.

“Talent acquisition, education, and refining the clinical mission are core elements that define Dr. Griffin’s service,” said a co-worker, noting the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Management has named its annual Medical Student Teaching Award in his honor. “Leading and mentoring faculty, residents, and staff fulfills Dr. Griffin’s sense of duty and service and addresses the health care needs of Dallas County residents.”

In his words: “I am very grateful and humbled to receive the Institutional Service Award. My professional life has been enriched by collaborations with very talented individuals at UT Southwestern. Our collective work product has played a support role in moving the Institutional mission forward. I appreciate the Department of Anesthesiology & Pain Management and its leadership for nominating me. Thank you, Dr. Podolsky and the selection committee for acknowledging my service. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn, practice, and share my medical career with the UT Southwestern community.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. James Griffin

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Robin Novakovic-White, M.D.

Associate Professor of Radiology and Neurology

In her role as a neurointerventional radiologist, Dr. Novakovic-White exemplifies institutional service at all levels and has demonstrated a singular focus on improving the acute stroke care provided to patients at UT Southwestern and Parkland Health & Hospital System. A former UTSW fellow and a faculty member since 2008, she is the current Quality Officer for the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute, and she serves on several stroke-related committees on campus. She has been instrumental in implementing standards and workflows that have allowed UT Southwestern to maintain its standing as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

“Her extensive involvement across committees related to stroke care, as well as her involvement in leadership positions at regional, national, and international venues, provide a unique perspective on how stroke care is currently provided here and externally,” said a colleague. That knowledge enables UT Southwestern to stay keenly aware of coming developments and changes in stroke delivery, keeping the institution at the forefront.

At UT Southwestern, Dr. Novakovic-White has participated in several quality improvement efforts, including the impending addition of automated stroke analysis software to facilitate triage. In addition, she has been involved in the creation of an electronic database of key metrics and in the writing and establishment of protocols for endovascular stroke treatment at the institutional and national levels. She has also led a task force to revise the North Central Texas regional stroke plan.

Known for her excellent grasp of the issues involved in delivering outstanding stroke care, she is acknowledged for her interactions with the various stakeholders across the spectrum of care providers, technicians, and ancillary staff.

Said her nominator: “When I first saw the description of the Institutional Service Award, Dr. Novakovic immediately came to mind. The amount and quality of institutional committee service she provides is astounding. She provides this unwavering service while also maintaining clinical responsibilities.” He also noted, “Her untiring commitment to acute stroke care is inspiring.”

In her words: “I have been privileged to work alongside the many dedicated staff members, trainees, and colleagues within the UTSW family. Their passion and innovation have inspired me throughout my career. While I am deeply honored to receive the Institutional Service Award from my peers and the UTSW leadership, I must acknowledge that any of my achievements are more of a recognition of the inspiration, teamwork, and collaboration I have experienced at UTSW. At the core of the UTSW culture is a shared desire to improve outcomes and better the lives of the patients we treat and the community we serve.”

Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Robin Novakovic-White