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 2021 Winners:
Becky Ennis, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
As a neonatologist and the Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, Dr. Ennis navigates many challenges to arrive at what’s most rewarding – helping infants survive their difficult first days. She not only provides extremely specialized care for newborns who require medical attention after delivery, but also supports worried parents who often are desperate for information and reassurance.
A consummate example of Dr. Ennis’ passion for improving outcomes was her leadership in developing optimized protocols for patient care in babies who have developed hypoglycemia. This was a substantial undertaking that involved input from the newborn nursery, laboratory services, nurses, physicians, obstetricians, lactation consultants, and advanced practice providers. Dr. Ennis put together a task force that, under her direction, interviewed families of babies who had previously been admitted with hypoglycemia, and the results of these surveys were used as a framework to create protocols to manage infants. This led to a 50% reduction in admissions to the NICU of babies with hypoglycemia and, correspondingly, fewer separations of babies from their mothers and more mother-infant bonding time.
Patients and colleagues alike say Dr. Ennis is truly an exceptionally dedicated and loyal physician who consistently goes above and beyond to ensure the highest level of patient care. Whether it is staying late to spend more time updating parents or interacting with her multidisciplinary team, Dr. Ennis always makes certain her patients receive the best care possible.
Dr. Ennis’ pediatric care career spans more than 28 years – the majority at UT Southwestern. She began as a registered nurse in the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at Children's Medical Center, where her experience inspired her to pursue a degree in medicine. She went to medical school at UT Southwestern and obtained her M.D. in 2000, and continued subspecialty training in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. Dr. Ennis joined the UTSW Pediatrics faculty in 2007 and has made an indelible impact in the NICU with her dedication to the family-centered delivery of care.
In her words: “I am honored to receive this award and humbled to be recognized for something that brings me joy and fulfillment in my career. It is a privilege to share in the happy days, provide support on the difficult days, and celebrate the accomplishments, big and small, of our patients and their families. It takes a village to care for our tiniest patients, and I am fortunate to work with an amazing NICU team who are tireless in their devotion to providing the best experience possible for our NICU families. They are truly the heart of our NICU and inspire me daily with their caring, advocacy, and commitment to our patients.”
Nisa Kubiliun, M.D.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases
Dr. Kubiliun holds many important, high-level positions at UT Southwestern – Clinical Chief of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases, Medical Director of Endoscopy Services, Director of the multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Prevention Program, and co-Director of the Cancer Genetics Program, to name a few – and in all roles she is lauded by patients and colleagues alike for her excellence as a physician and for her warmth and empathy in general.
“Dr. Kubiliun is an outstanding listener and exudes compassion,” one nominator wrote. “She has the ability to accurately diagnose not just the patient’s illness, but what their illness means to them, what they are afraid of, and what questions they have. Her clinical communication is masterful. Her clinical knowledge and technical excellence are of paramount importance to her patients and their loved ones.”
Another nominator shared her insights as a colleague and a family member of one of Dr. Kubiliun’s patients: “When my mother was hospitalized with gastrointestinal issues, Dr. Kubiliun came to visit her each day and spent time answering all of our questions,” the nominator wrote. “My mother has a very special bond with Dr. Kubiliun, not just because she is an excellent physician, but because she is simply an extraordinary human being.”
There are myriad examples of how Dr. Kubiliun goes the extra mile as a physician. “She will listen to any concerns and immediately identify ways to improve the experience and the process for the patient, their immediate family, and even their family members across the country who are looking to coordinate their care here at UTSW,” a nominator wrote. “She has been known to drive up to UT Southwestern Frisco on the weekends to do procedures when she is not on call, all to spare (mostly elderly) patients the inconvenience of being transferred down to Dallas.”
Dr. Kubiliun has previously been recognized with the UT Southwestern Lyman E. Bilhartz, M.D., Teaching Award. She was also selected to be part of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy’s Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) program, among other honors.
In her words: “I am so honored and humbled to receive this award, particularly in light of its focus on patient trust and satisfaction. These elements of patient care have always been my priority, and to be recognized for this is truly heartwarming. I strive to leave the world a better place than how I found it. In my interactions with my patients, this means not only providing the best possible medical care, but also empathizing with them as individuals and giving each patient the peace of mind that we will take great care of them. This award would not be possible without the unrelenting friendship and support of my colleagues and mentors. I also want to recognize the dedication and work ethic of the endoscopy staff, nurses, APPs, and navigators with whom I have the privilege of working. Above all, I am so thankful to my family for all the sacrifices they have made to help me achieve my goals. Throughout my life, they have instilled in me the understanding that our greatest fulfillment in life comes from doing what we can to improve the lives of those around us.”
Leaders in Clinical Excellence video: Dr. Nisa Kubiliun
Padmaja Reddy, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine
Palliative Medicine Section
As a specialist in palliative medicine, Dr. Reddy is uncommonly skilled at caring for patients and their family members in what is often the darkest time of their lives. That was true long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, but when the pandemic struck, she took her calling to a new level, as all 15 of her nominators attest in great detail.
“She has given of herself, her whole heart, to provide an infrastructure to help families be involved in the care of their loved ones even when they couldn’t be physically present at the hospital or in their loved one’s room,” one colleague wrote. “I have watched her lead many family discussions with such grace and poise, and by the end of the meeting she earns the trust of the entire room. Her demeanor puts families at ease.
“She has, unfortunately, had to inform countless family members over the past year that their loved ones were dying. … It is really hard to put into words how much she has done, but I will put it simply and say that those of us who have worked closely with her are in awe of her.”
Part of what Dr. Reddy accomplished early in the pandemic was creating, in conjunction with her critical care colleagues, other members of the palliative care team, and many physician volunteers, the COVID ICU Family Outreach Program at Parkland Memorial Hospital. A crucial part of this program involved providing daily virtual updates to the families of every single COVID ICU patient.
“She saw that severed communication between overloaded ICU teams and patient families could not become the status quo,” one nominator noted. “She developed a de novo curriculum for complex medical communication specific to ICU COVID hospitalization and then trained volunteer residents, fellows, and attendings to act as conduits between the ICU team and families.
“In addition, Dr. Reddy maintained her role as palliative care attending, providing advanced care planning and guidance for hundreds of families navigating the critical illness. … It is hard to overstate the cumulative good that Dr. Reddy has provided to the Dallas community over the past 17 months when considering the families she touched directly and through every volunteer in her program.”
Dr. Reddy is an alumna of UT Southwestern Medical School, where she also completed her internship, residency, and fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She was a high school teacher in Brooklyn, New York, prior to becoming a physician.
In her words: “I am humbled and honored to receive the Patient and Family Recognition Award and a Program Development Award (see accompanying story). It is a gross understatement to say that our UT Southwestern and Parkland communities were tested over the past 20 months. I cannot deny that there were dark days when the multidisciplinary team that assembled to care for Parkland's sickest COVID patients feared we'd be overrun. But even on the darkest days, I took comfort in knowing that I was surrounded by a team that prioritized compassion at all costs and that treated our patients like they were family. I am grateful to my palliative care colleagues, whom I've seen commit a thousand acts of kindness, both before and during this pandemic. I am grateful to my critical care partners; I watched them fight through fear, isolation, grief, hope, fear of hope, and exhaustion under combat conditions, and then come back the next day for more. They define strength of character. Lastly, I am grateful to the dozens of physicians – residents, fellows, and faculty – who volunteered to assist our service in maintaining a pipeline of communication with our patients' families. They were our invisible army, and we will forever be in their debt.”