Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 04/29/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 256,508

COVID-19 related deaths: 3417

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 248,806

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Thursday, April 29, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

Scholarly Pursuit and Thesis

by Michael Bernas
Scholarly Pursuit and Thesis Program Director

This article was originally published in the March/April issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.


Have you ever been curious about an unknown in your practice? Do you ever find yourself thinking “what if…”? Have you always been curious about doing a little research, but not sure where to start? If so, you may be interested in participating in a research project with a medical school student from the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine. 

The program is called the Scholarly Pursuit and Thesis (SPT) course and it is a four-year research project that all students at the school undertake as part of their education. It was designed for students to explore medical research, practice critical inquiry, and use medical information literacy to become patient-centric physicians with life-long curiosity and learning skills. The course begins with students reinvigorating their curiosity and questioning skills. This is followed by some basic research training, including literature searching and appraisal skills, research question development, and human subjects training through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative program. Program faculty will help develop these skills and assist students throughout their research projects.

Many students have prior experience with research from their undergraduate or post-college education. During the first year, students work with their mentor to produce a prospectus that is similar to a small research grant application, detailing project parameters. During the next two years students work on projects with their mentors, and in the fourth year they produce a thesis as well as a poster for a public presentation.

Some common questions from potential research mentors include:

What is the role of the mentor? The mentor acts as a guide to the student in the research project. He or she will assist the student in designing the research project and often help with providing data or access to data for research. The mentor will work with the student as they monitor data collection and interpretation, will be available for questions, and will assist the student with the final thesis conclusions. 

What areas and topics are appropriate for student research projects? Mentors and projects can come from any field (see Table). The only requirements are that the project is researched effectively, includes some sort of intervention or examination (experiment, chart review, product design, data collection, etc.), has a good plan for analysis of results, and includes a discussion of the results with potential application and questions for the future.

How does a student decide what research project to do? Generally, there are four ways to develop the projects. Firstly, the mentor may already have some ongoing research that the student can join or carve a piece from. Secondly, often mentors have some questions that they have been curious about and want to explore further. Thirdly, students sometimes have their own specific question to start with as the basis for their project. Finally, after some discussion concerning issues and questions in a specific area, the mentor and student can design something completely new. Whatever way the decision is made, communication between the mentor and student helps drive this process. 

How much time will this take? Time with the student will vary from project to project and there are no specific program requirements. Overall, the mentor needs to commit to working with the student for four years (projects chosen and designed at approximately end of semester 1 and thesis submitted at approximately end of semester 7). However, during this time, due to obligations and schedules of both, this could mean meeting almost every week in some labs (approximately one hour) to perhaps only meeting every two to three weeks for some clinicians or mentors. As the project progresses, there may be less need for frequent interactions until data review and analysis. We anticipate that mentor-student meetings will also include some “life lesson” discussions and the potential to develop a lasting relationship.  

Do I need to have experience as a researcher? No, there are no requirements for prior experience, only your willingness to work with the student.

Does the student need to publish a manuscript on the results? There is no requirement that the students publish a manuscript before they graduate. However, it is the expectation that the majority of student projects will result in publication in addition to abstracts and posters/presentations from project results as appropriate.

What are the benefits to me as a mentor? All mentors will receive an academic appointment with the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine. In addition, you get to work with an enthusiastic and curious student for four years, who will perform most of the work. The curriculum design provides education in basic science (year 1) and clinical training (year 2) in an accelerated fashion, producing an experienced mini-physician to enhance your research team. Finally, students will have educational experiences throughout North Texas with the potential to share or expand your research. 

How do I learn more? This article is just an introduction. For more detailed information and any questions, please contact Program Director Michael Bernas at m.bernas@tcu.edu. 

A Conversation With Your Community Physicians: Are Vaccinations Safe?

Tune in to the North Texas Medical Society (NTMSC) Facebook page tonight at 7pm, for a live discussion with your community physicians on COVID-19 vaccinations. Join Dr. Mark Casanova (Dallas County Medical Society), Dr. Trish Perl (Dallas County Medical Society), Dr. Aimee Garza (Collin-Fannin County Medical Society), and Dr. Sathya Bhandari (Denton County Medical Society) to get answers to your top questions.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 04/22/21


COVID-19 Positive cases: 255,309

COVID-19 related deaths: 3382

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 247,557

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Thursday, April 22, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 04/20/21


COVID-19 Positive cases: 254,915

COVID-19 related deaths: 3378

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 247,126

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Tuesday, April 20, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

The Last Word

by Hujefa Vora, MD – Publications Committee

This article was originally published in the March/April issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

The last words I wrote in this journal were printed in January 2020, after a family trip to Disney World:

“I returned to work in this New Year, in this new decade, invigorated. My optimism stems from the smiles of my baby girl and her beautiful mother. It stems from an understanding that our imaginations power our spirit and our spirit powers our hearts. This year, 2020, will be an amazing year for all of us because I will will it to be so. The world is full of magic. We are so blessed to be physicians. I needed a particular princess to remind me of this. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. I hope your year is starting out as well as mine. I pray that all of us can find perspective and optimism somewhere in this world, so that despite the bureaucrats and the obstacles and the hazards along our journey, we can continue to serve our patients in this, the highest of all callings in the Galaxy.”

This was quite obviously written before a viral pandemic spread across the United States, infecting countless numbers of our families, friends, and loved ones, killing over 500,000 Americans. It was written before our world changed forever.

Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Fatigued. These are the emotions that have defined our existence on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. We have watched helplessly as many of our patients and loved ones have slipped away. We have held the hands of patients who have passed away in respiratory isolation, their closest loved ones on phones and miles away, not allowed into the hospital. But I have seen Joy, when the infection overwhelms but the body and spirit fight on, conquering the virus and returning our patients to health. We have seen families reunited after long battles in the hospital ICU or at home in quarantine. We have seen Hope. We have known Love. I have seen the fantastic power of the human spirit. I have seen God’s love, and the power of prayer. There were moments when I felt that I could no longer fight for myself or anyone else, when the exhaustion would creep into my bones, and leave me battered, bruised, and almost beaten. But we are physicians. And we work with amazing, powerful nurses, medical assistants, medical techs, therapists, and hospital administrators—a formidable health care team. So I saw unexpected acts of bravery, acts of selflessness, moments that were etched into my soul forever. I saw us fight an unknown adversary. I have been privy to courage and honor, as we wrapped our patients in an armor of hope. I have seen hands that are raw from washing and sanitizing and wringing but showed no signs of relenting or retreat or defeat.

And in early January of 2021, at the hospital where I have seen and experienced all of this, there was a moment where my hope was recovered, where I became recharged and ready to step back onto the battleground. I saw the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the sun peeking over the horizon at the end of a cold dark night. The promise of a new day. The vaccine.

“Overwhelmed.  Exhausted.  Fatigued.  These are the emotions that have defined our existence on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year.”  

As I received that second dose, I wondered how any of us survived this year. I wept tears of joy, thinking that I finally knew in that moment that we would make it through this war. The tears burned with the memory of all those we have lost. It didn’t need to get this bad. Why did we have to lose so many? And how many more will we lose? The answer depends now on our resolve. We must resolve to vaccinate as many of our patients as we can as soon as possible. As a medical community, we should assist our public health departments, hospitals, clinics, and our federal, state, and local governments to roll out these vaccines with great efficiency. The only way we will win this war now is by vaccinating the masses and following the public health guidelines to wash our hands, distance, and wear masks.

I returned to work in this New Year, 2021, reinvigorated. My optimism stems from the smiles of my colleagues, which have been renewed with hope that the tide is turning. My optimism stems from an understanding that our imaginations power our spirit and our spirit powers our hearts, and that science and ingenuity and heart will prevail with the advent of this vaccine. This year, 2021, will be an amazing year for all of us because I will will it to be so. The world is full of magic. We are so blessed to be physicians. Search your feelings, you know it to be true. I hope your year is starting out as well as mine. I pray that all of us can find perspective and optimism somewhere in this world, so that despite the ill effects of COVID-19 on all of our lives, and the obstacles and the hazards along our journey that was 2020, we can continue to serve our patients in this, the highest of all callings. I want to thank all of my colleagues and compatriots who have shared this year with me and my family. We have shown that together we are stronger, and we will overcome. My name is Hujefa Vora, and this is the Last Word.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 04/15/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 253,954

COVID-19 related deaths: 3369

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 246,231

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Thursday, April 15, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 04/13/21

COVID-19 Positive cases: 253,402

COVID-19 related deaths: 3360

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 245,782

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.

Drinking from the Fire Hydrant

by Chandler O’Leary, OMS-II

This article was originally published in the March/April issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

Medical school has one primary goal: passing on humanity’s medical knowledge to a new generation. There are a few challenges to accomplishing this goal. First is a static problem, i.e., the sheer magnitude of information. Second is a dynamic problem, i.e., the rate of change of this information. Humankind’s medical knowledge is growing and being refined at an incredible rate. These forces are constantly at play in medical school, and they only become more obvious the deeper one’s understanding of a topic becomes. Learning more means absorbing all of the idiosyncrasies and all of the exceptions as well as confronting the burden of complexity. This is a problem that our species has been dealing with forever. Just take the ancient story of Adam and Eve; life was simple until they ate the apple and had to deal with the consequences of knowledge. 

“Drinking from a fire hydrant” is the analogy often used to describe the intensity of learning in medical school. This is what medical students volunteer for beginning in year one, and it will continue until we retire. The best and only solution is old-fashioned hard work and careful thinking. This is the reality that you have to accept if you choose to be a doctor. Unfortunately, this same reality of drinking from a fire hydrant now applies to our whole society that is woefully unprepared for the flood of medical knowledge and information. 

Our society’s fire hydrant does not come in the form of a pathology textbook, but in the form of the Internet and social media. Everyone is bombarded with health content, and the mishandling or misinterpretation of this information has many potential problems. These can range from wasted patient resources to creating false expectations—they can even lead to physical harm. As doctors we become familiar with information overload and have the opportunity to develop strategies to handle it. We learn to be skeptical, research thoroughly, test our assumptions, and rely on experts. It is sometimes easy to assume the whole world has some of these strategies too, but this is obviously not the case. I don’t even need to give a specific example, just browse Twitter or Facebook for a few minutes and I am certain one will present itself. Ideally, everyone would have instant access to a healthcare worker to help them navigate the things they see online. This is currently impossible, so many patients will have to sort through the overload of truth and misinformation on their own. In light of this problem, I am reminded of a famous quote by a pillar of our profession:

“One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses”1

Sir William Osler.


I believe that we can benefit society by educating our patients about strategies to sort through medical information they find online. Strategies like having some skepticism toward this information, researching it through reputable sources, and trying to disprove something they see on social media before they believe it. Strategies that we have had the opportunity to develop through our medical education.

I am like most second-year medical students and I am probably too eager to share what I have learned with those around me. What has been surprising to me is that most of the health questions my friends and family ask or the incorrect assertions I hear are different from what I expected. For every time I get to explain how someone’s medication works, there are five times of disputing something someone saw on social media. I understand that not everyone has the benefit of medical school, but I fear that the massive amount of online health information has the potential to cause harm if people do not have basic strategies to handle it.

In closing, I will admit that the quote I used was not complete. The full quote says that “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicines.” I completely misrepresented the quote because it demonstrates how the simplest strategies can be used to check the validity of something you read. One Google search is all it takes to gather evidence that I was not being completely truthful with Dr. Osler’s claim. That being said, if Osler were alive today, I believe he would agree with the sentiment that “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to believe everything they see online.”

1Osler, William, Robert Bennett Bean, and William B. Bean, Sir William Osler Aphorisms: from His Bedside Teachings and Writings, (New York: Schuman. 1950).

Tarrant County COVID-19 Activity – 04/08/21


COVID-19 Positive cases: 252,461

COVID-19 related deaths: 3340

Recovered COVID-19 cases: 244,708

Data from Tarrant County Public Heath’s (TCPH) report of COVID-19 activity in Tarrant County, updated Thursday, April 8, 2021. Find more COVID-19 information from TCPH here.

*These data are provisional and are subject to change at any time.

Deaths and recovered cases are included in total COVID-19 positive cases.