Getting to Know Angela Self, MD – 2021 TCMS President

by Allison Howard

This piece was originally published in the January/February issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

Dr. Angela Self always had an independent spirit. At age 17, fresh out of high school, she left her home in Las Vegas to make a life for herself in New York. As she was growing up, Dr. Self did not dream of becoming a doctor, but she never shied away from an adventure. Looking back, she thinks the decision to pursue Medicine shouldn’t have been such a surprise. When she was 14, Dr. Self volunteered as a candy striper at Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital (now University Hospital), and shortly after she moved to New York, she began working as a dental assistant. “Maybe it was a foreshadowing, but I had never even considered that I would go into Medicine,” says Dr. Self. 

The idea to shift directions came suddenly. One day, after assisting with a procedure, Dr. Self began questioning her path. She was filled with a desire to care for patients directly in a capacity where she could serve as their advocate. Medical school came to her as the obvious answer, but she knew it would be a long, winding path. She did not yet have an undergraduate degree so she approached the decision thoughtfully. “Through a process of prayer, and seeking, and volunteering at my ambulance corps, I really felt a strong leading that I was to go to medical school. Once I knew I was going, there was no question in my mind from that moment.” When she felt confident that this was her future, she quickly began making changes to prepare for the long years of study that lay ahead.

Dr. Self realized that she would need a flexible job to support her education, one that would give her freedom to go to classes during the day. She was also hesitant to step away from the clinical interactions she had with patients as a dental assistant. “I thought, it’s going to be eight years before I can do anything,” remembers Dr. Self.  “Here I had been working as an oral surgical assistant, a dental assistant. I had been in ORs with an oral surgeon and had been able to do hands-on things.” Because of this, as she began attending classes at a local community college and continued to work full time, Dr. Self also received training as an EMT and a paramedic. 

She joined South Orangetown Ambulance Corps in 1987. It was an exciting but hectic time. Dr. Self had three different jobs at that point and picked up extra shifts on the ambulance whenever possible. She worked nights, clocking an average of 60 hours a week while still taking a full load of classes. Despite her long work hours, she was hesitant to slow down. She transferred to Pace University in 1990 and graduated with a BS in Biology in 1992. 

At that point, Dr. Self ran into some barriers. She applied to medical school in New York but ended up being waitlisted. Because of her extreme work hours, she had not been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Dr. Self was concerned that this would stop her from going to medical school; it was the first time she began to doubt that she had made the right decision. She considered several alternatives, such as pursuing social work, becoming a pharmacist, or even getting an advanced nursing degree. 

“Dr. Angela Self is an amazing colleague who I have the pleasure to work closely with on many projects. She is compassionate, honest, hardworking, and has everyone’s best interest at heart. I have the utmost confidence that she will represent Tarrant County Medical Society with dignity, compassion, and will be an overall amazing leader.”
Neerja Bhardwaj, MD

Then, a new opportunity arose. “A friend that went to St. George’s in Grenada suggested that I apply there,” says Dr. Self. She knew it would be a big change—Dr. Self hadn’t planned to leave New York for medical school, much less the U.S. Still, she was intrigued. “I had a couple of friends that I really admired that were going to St. George’s,” she shares. They were very positive about the school, so she decided to apply. She was accepted into the program and began classes in 1994. 

Looking back, Dr. Self realizes that she could have applied to other U.S. medical schools, but she has no regrets. Living in Grenada gave her the opportunity to learn hands-on about diseases that are rarely seen in the States, due to Grenada being a developing country. She also gained some wonderful mentors at the school, including Dean of Students Dr. C.V. Rao.  “He taught us, he mentored us, he watched out for us, and remains a friend, I think, to everyone who ever went there.”

While in medical school, she was on call for student emergencies. She also continued picking up shifts as a paramedic whenever she was on breaks. It was difficult to work so much while completing her education, but the benefit of financial security coupled with the valuable patient care experience made it worthwhile. 

Dr. Self moved back to the U.S. in 1996 to complete her clinical rotations, working between New York and Baltimore. She graduated from medical school in 1998 and began an internship in anesthesiology at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. Though anesthesia was appealing, she had a passion to care for geriatric and terminal patients, so she believed her future was in oncology. 

At this time, Dr. Self had a big life change—she gave birth to her daughter, Whitney. She took ten months off to care for her young child, until they moved to Texas. At that point, Dr. Self completed her internal medicine residency at St. Paul Hospital in Dallas. It was a difficult time to be going through the intensity of residency.  “It was really hard to go every day because I felt I was robbing my daughter of having a mom,” says Dr. Self. She is grateful to her mother for taking care of Whitney, filling the gap when Dr. Self couldn’t be there.

As she completed her residency, Dr. Self fell in love with primary care. She was also ready to focus on her future. “I needed to commit to motherhood and Medicine, and I felt I could do that by doing internal medicine,” says Dr. Self. When she finished the program, she joined a private practice. Dr. Self worked as an internal medicine physician for 15 years. She was employed at three different clinics throughout that time; at one point, she worked for David Pillow, MD, a well-known pillar of the Tarrant County medical community. “Dr. Pillow taught me that patients will tell you what’s wrong if you just listen,” says Dr. Self. He helped her to avoid developing tunnel vision when treating her patients. “His physical exams were amazing. He taught me so many things that you never learn in medical school.”

Dr. Pillow’s guidance along with an extensive background in emergency care made Dr. Self a strong diagnostician. She was quickly able to discover the root of a problem, especially when critical treatment was required. Twice, she was able to get patients immediate care when they came to appointments mid-heart attack, even though their symptoms were irregular. Because she wanted to serve older patients, whenever she joined a new clinic, the Medicare patients were sent her way. “I got the ones with heart failure, liver disease, lung disease, and cancer, and then I got involved with hospice. That fulfilled that longing in me to work with end-stage patients. I did get to do what I wanted after all.”

Still, there was a downside to private practice; it was difficult to manage financially. “Medicare didn’t pay that much, and geriatric patients take a lot more resources, need a lot more time, so you see fewer in a day and reimbursement is lower, but it was what I was passionate about so I did it as long as I could.”

Eventually, Dr. Self made the move to working in administrative medicine. She has been on the other side of care for about five years now; currently, she is working for an accountable care organization. Though she misses taking care of patients, there are many advantages to her current role. “I can advocate for more people in an administrative role than in a primary care practice, where I might have one to two thousand charts, so I can affect one to two thousand lives in practice,” shares Dr. Self. “Now I can affect many more lives.” One of her focuses is improving the patient experience in post-acute settings.

While the change may seem dramatic, Dr. Self has been involved in organized medicine her whole career and has seen the impact of physicians advocating for their profession. She has been a longtime member of TCMS. In the early 2000s, she helped to review cases for the Public Grievance Committee. Dr. Self became more involved during the 2014 Ebola crisis. She was impressed by the way TCMS, TMA, and the AMA worked together to protect patients and physicians, and she knew that was something she wanted to be a part of. “Ever since then, I’ve made attending TCMS’s monthly board meetings part of my job negotiations!” 

Dr. Self Is an active member of the TCMS Board of Advisors and the Women in Medicine Committee; she also attends TMA and TCMS meetings whenever possible. “(TCMS board member) Gary Floyd says, ‘Good doctors take care of their patients. Great doctors take care of their patients and their profession,’” says Dr. Self. “Being part of organized medicine is helping to take care of your profession. When doctors go down to Austin and speak with lawmakers in their white coats, it changes the way that we are viewed.”

Her fellow physicians look forward to seeing her in this new role as president. “Dr. Angela Self is an amazing colleague who I have the pleasure to work closely with on many projects. She is compassionate, honest, hardworking, and has everyone’s best interest at heart,” says Neerja Bhardwaj, MD, a palliative care physician practicing in Dallas. “I have the utmost confidence that she will represent Tarrant County Medical Society with dignity, compassion, and will be an overall amazing leader.”

In the next year, Dr. Self hopes to grow physician membership and participation in the Medical Society. She believes in the power of banding together to give doctors a voice for their profession and their patients. She also wants to serve as a resource, particularly for independent physicians who are struggling with the fallout from COVID-19. She thinks providing opportunities to connect with other physicians is an important part of this support. “Talking with other doctors who have experienced the same things helps,” shares Dr. Self.  “I’ve been there.” All of this ultimately comes together for one purpose: to serve patients excellently and effectively. 

When advising those who are considering going into Medicine, Dr. Self encourages getting as much exposure as possible before taking the leap. “Make sure you have fully answered the ‘why’ for medical school,” says Dr. Self. “Make sure it is something you are passionate about.” Shadow a physician, work as a scribe—whatever it takes to make sure you have found your calling in life. It isn’t an easy path, but it can be incredibly rewarding. “There is nothing else I would rather do.”

When Dr. Self is not working or attending meetings, you might find her volunteering at the Cornerstone Assistance Network. Even though she doesn’t currently practice in a clinic, Dr. Self still enjoys getting to treat patients, especially those who are struggling to access care. In her free time, Dr. Self loves traveling and going to live concerts. Last year she was able to attend the Eric Clapton Guitar Festival. “It was amazing and made me realize that I love the Blues. I didn’t know I loved the genre before that!” A highlight of her trips is always searching for the best lattes in hole-in-the-wall cafés. Dr. Self loves coffee—she even runs a blog to talk about her caffeinated discoveries (you can read some of her stories at coffeebyangela.com). 

She enjoys going on these trips (when there isn’t a pandemic!) with friends and family. Dr. Self has the most fun when her daughter can come along, but Whitney is pretty busy these days. She is currently working on completing her undergraduate degree with the goal of applying to medical school in the near future. 

We are excited to support Dr. Self as she prepares to lead us as we serve the citizens of Tarrant County and the community of Medicine.

Installation of Angela Self, MD – 2021 TCMS President

Join us as we install Angela Self, MD, as TCMS’s 2021 president. The ceremony will take place over Zoom at our January Board of Advisors meeting, which will be held Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at noon.

If you would like to participate, email Melody Briggs at mbriggs@tcms.org.

From the Director

The challenges of 2020 changed us, but they did not stop us. A look at how PATC adapted during unprecedented times.

By Kathryn Narumiya, PATC Program Director

Happy New Year!

One year ago, few would have thought that in just weeks, our places of business, worship, and pleasure would be severely limited or closed. Fewer still could have predicted the profound effect this would have on patient access to medical care.

Project Access Tarrant County was similarly affected. Sometimes we wondered how the program would continue. But, true to PATC tradition, we evaluated, collaborated, and devised a plan that fits our current reality.

Instead of attending in-person intake sessions with PATC staff, patients now complete the process virtually. Instead of delivering documents to the office, patients fax or mail them. And while some of our patients have had to be creative in how they access the necessary technology (who hasn’t?), every one of them has been able to make it work.  

Reflecting on 2020, we are amazed at how much we were able to accomplish given the shutdowns and hospital limitations. PATC coordinated 382 medical appointments for 105 patients, including 20 surgeries and other hospital procedures during a period when access for even paying patients was severely limited.

We are always grateful for our volunteers and partners, but this year, we are especially thankful for our generous volunteers who continued to see patients and provide charity care during a time of uncertainty.

As I write this, hospitals are reaching capacity (again) and are postponing and canceling surgeries and procedures. As a result, PATC has several patients whose cases are on hold indefinitely. But this time, we know how to proceed. We have a plan and we will continue to take each day and each moment one step at a time until we reach the other side.  

TCMS Physician COVID-19 Vaccine Event

Join us on Friday for our TCMS Physician COVID-19 Vaccine Event. In partnership with Tom Thumb/Albertson, we will be providing Moderna vaccines for TCMS members and their clinical staff who participate in direct patient care.

Members, if you did not receive the email or need additional information, contact Melody Briggs at mbriggs@tcms.org.

COVID-19 Vaccines for Tarrant County Physicians

Tarrant County Medical Society is working with numerous pharmacies in Tarrant County to provide COVID-19 vaccines for physicians and their staff members.


The process will begin with allocations next week. We will provide details on scheduling appointments for you and your medical teams as soon as we have more information.


Stay tuned for updates on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/TarrantCMS

https://twitter.com/TarrantCMS

“Thank You”

by Teresa Godbey, MD
2020 Gold-Headed Cane Recipient

This piece was originally published in the November/December issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

Let me start and finish by saying “thank you.” Receiving the Gold-Headed Cane is a humbling experience for me, because I am not really a scientist, nor procedurally gifted, not an expert in any particular field of Medicine, have never published a scholarly article, and am not even currently on the front line of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. It’s been several years since I got out of bed to come to the hospital in the middle of the night, and even then it was often to call in the person who would do the procedure or make the decision that would be critical for our patients. 

With a B.A. in English literature and a lot of courses in languages, I came late to the realization that I needed to apply to medical school. And I would not have done so had I not had a mother who was willing to keep an infant son so I could start all those math and science prerequisites, and a father who’d made it possible for her to be a stay-at-home mother and grandmother. So thanks to my wonderful parents. This decision to go into Medicine seemed to some like an abrupt change of pursuit, but for me, the unifying theme between my undergraduate studies and the practice of Medicine has been the privilege of learning people’s stories.  In practicing Medicine, one can even help to bring about a plot twist or be a minor character in the story . . . but to hear what came before from disparate walks of life, then facilitate the ability of the patient to make their story unfold has been my motivation. 

Some of those stories still make me smile years later.  The patient who volunteered to run a small cemetery in a tiny town was at the cemetery when the grave for her mother, who had died at 103, was freshly dug. She met a young couple visiting in search of ancestral lore. In the process of helping them find a headstone of interest, she managed to back up and fall into her mother’s grave, sustaining a tib-fib fracture. Somehow, she managed to laugh at and see the mythic overtones of that painful experience.  So many patients have shared their triumphs in life with me, with luck as well as gumption helping us all along the way. Sometimes luck is better than gumption. There was the decision to call a surgeon to see a middle-aged man, to remove a large obstructive right colon mass even though this mass, surely a malignancy, must have metastasized given its dimensions.  The surgery was going to be diagnostic and palliative but proved curative when a plastic cocktail sword was found at the center of a large inflammatory mass. 

Then there are the gut-wrenching stories of loss and the staggering abilities of some people to keep putting one foot in front of the other . . . the woman who witnessed one of her sons shoot and kill another. How she managed to grieve the loss of one of her boys, while still being a mother to the one who went to prison astounds me to this day.  I can only hope that allowing her to relate this to me was in some way beneficial to her, but her strength and grace were such that I’m not sure I was needed.

It can be discouraging now to practice in an environment of corporate intrusion, such as to be told on which shelf the lubricant must be kept in the exam room, or to be coached to attest to diagnoses based on flimsy or inaccurate data. There are those of you who are gifted with a scalpel, a scope, a cath; those who can calm the chaos of the ER for a quiet moment to see a diagnosis coalesce.  I suspect those abilities make it easier to keep a sense of purpose, so for those of us who are PCPs, let this be my plea. Hear the patient. Hear their story. See them. Feel them. There are times that I hear from a patient, “That doctor just came to the door, and never even examined me.” So yes, I know that current guidelines put ever less emphasis on certain parts of the physical exam, but please, keep honing your skills. The time spent on physical exam may not all be of value statistically. But when the unnecessary oral exam or rectal exam turns up a cancer, it changes your story as well as the patient’s. Plus, the patient who gets a rectal exam won’t tell someone else that you just came to the door. For those of us in primary care, using our senses is the only way we can, so to speak, change the ending. 

And now, a few more people to thank: Dr. Stephen Eppstein, for driving from Fort Worth to Dallas on the one day of the week he could have relaxed a little, to be the town attending for my Internal Medicine rotation in 1984 . The town attending is the one you can ask the questions you might be embarrassed to ask your regular attending, like: Why aren’t there viral UTIs when there’s viral everything else?  Dr. Kendra Belfi, the first female internist I really got to know, and who took such good care of my mother and my aunt.  All the wonderful doctors in the Texas Club of Internists with whom I’ve enjoyed education and recreation over the years: thanks for waiting until the old guard died off so you could finally change the bylaws and let women in—in 1997. My son, Noah Boydston, for turning out mostly OK, and loving me even though I was away so much when he was little.  Oh, and if you have to wait until age 48 to meet the love of your life, Leighton Clark was worth the wait. Thank you all. 

The Doctor’s Doctor

Gold-Headed Cane Award Recipient Teresa Godbey, MD

By Allison Howard

This piece was originally published in the November/December issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

If Teresa Godbey, MD, has one piece of advice for physicians early in their careers, it is to develop relationships with their colleagues. “Find at least one group where you want to go to meetings. You need other people. It’s fine to read and educate yourself on your own, but you need at least one regularly attended organized group.” 

Dr. Godbey, TCMS’ 2020 Gold-Headed Cane Award recipient, is speaking from experience. In October, she retired after 33 years of practicing Internal Medicine in Fort Worth. Throughout her career, she has been a member of the Texas Club of Internists, the Texas Medical Association, and the Tarrant County Medical Society. “I don’t know what I would do without them.”

Though Dr. Godbey has long been involved in the medical community, becoming a physician was not her original plan. She got her undergraduate degree in English, but when she finished college, Dr. Godbey was unsure of her future career. She worked at Xerox for a year but soon realized that she wanted to go a completely different direction. Dr. Godbey was a new mother at the time, and she wanted stability and independence—and to do something that she loved. When she realized her interest and abilities converged at Medicine, she started down that path and never looked back. She began attending classes at UTA to get the necessary prerequisites to apply to medical school.

While the decision was sudden, the inspiration was not. Many people from her past influenced Dr. Godbey—from her beloved childhood pediatrician, Dr. Frank Cohen, to a favorite high school teacher, Valda “Frau C.” Carroll, who suffered from multiple sclerosis—these important individuals planted seeds that would impact her future. When the opportunity arose for Dr. Godbey to go back to school, her vision was clear: she was going to become a physician.

“Dr. Godbey has always been the type of physician I aspire to be myself.  She has remained passionate about and fiercely committed to her patients, even in these times of increasingly heavy burden of clerical activities which constantly seek to burn us out and pull us away from the joy of direct patient care.”

Not everyone shared her enthusiasm. Between her young son and her English degree, Dr. Godbey’s academic counselor did not think she was a serious candidate for medical school. Dr. Godbey was told that she had to make A’s in all of her classes. “Thankfully, I was very confident then!” laughs Dr. Godbey. “That didn’t worry me.” No, she was not concerned about her math or science classes—it was PE that made her nervous. “PE was the class that really scared me. I intentionally got my undergraduate degree at a college that didn’t require it, but UTA was making me take PE. The only thing that would fit between the math and science courses and labs was racquetball. Racquetball!” Dr. Godbey remembers in dismay. Though racquetball was not her strong suit, her coach was fortunately more focused on dedication than ability. She completed all of her classes—even racquetball—with excellent grades and was accepted into medical school at UT Southwestern in 1980.

Dr. Godbey emphasizes that she did not go on this journey alone; she believes she never would have become a physician without the support of her mother. “She watched my son, Noah, for me. She loved it and made it possible for me to go back to school,” says Dr. Godbey. “I never could have done this without her.” 

Once in medical school, Dr. Godbey began to consider the different specialties she could pursue. Everything came into focus during the beginning of her third-year rotations when she realized that she wanted to practice Internal Medicine. Dr. Godbey was originally considering a career as an OB/GYN, but when she recognized her love of interactions with patients during her medicine rotation and saw the appeal of building decades-spanning relationships with her patients, she shifted her focus, deciding to apply for a residency in Internal Medicine. She was accepted into Parkland Hospital’s residency program in 1984 and was hired by Internal Medicine Associates in 1987. She stayed with the group through mergers and acquisitions her entire career.

During her years in practice, Dr. Godbey developed the longstanding relationships she had hoped for with many of her patients. “My patients have aged with me for the most part,” she says. She also enjoyed the fact that primary care treats an expansive range of healthcare needs. While numerous patients and cases were significant throughout her career, one success comes to mind as a win she will never forget. A woman diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum had been sick in the hospital for weeks. She had been put on IVs and TPN, but as time went on, her condition continued to deteriorate. Numerous physicians had seen her, but they could not determine the root of the problem. When Dr. Godbey was called in, she looked at the chart and immediately saw something concerning. “I remembered Dr. Leonard Madison talking about beriberi when I was in medical school, which is thiamin deficiency. It was just there, on her chart. No thiamin.” At that time, there was a shortage of thiamin nationally, so it was not included in TPN. Since patients were generally not on TPN for an extended period of time it was not an issue, but because this woman had been using it for weeks, the deficiency was causing her significant distress. They quickly added an additional thiamin supplement to her IV, and within a day she had recovered and was on her way home. As much as it was an exciting experience for Dr. Godbey, she defers the credit to her medical school professor: “She got better thanks to Dr. Madison and his lecture on beriberi!” 

“I don’t know of any doctor who deserves this award more. She is the most caring doctor I have ever known, always putting her patients’ needs and well-being above all else.”

Dr. Godbey’s colleagues emphasize that it is her complete dedication to patient care that characterizes her as a physician. Jennifer Arnouville, MD, says, “Dr. Godbey has always been the type of physician I aspire to be myself.  She has remained passionate about and fiercely committed to her patients, even in these times of increasingly heavy burden of clerical activities which constantly seek to burn us out and pull us away from the joy of direct patient care.”

Over the years, Dr. Godbey certainly saw the practice of Medicine change, much as her own practice developed. What was once a group of seven or eight physicians has grown into what is now USMD, which is part of the even larger OptumCare. Though there were many adjustments, some things stayed the same. Ed Nelson, MD, one of the physicians who hired Dr. Godbey 33 years ago, continued with the practice alongside her. Dr. Nelson, Lee Forshay, MD, and Tom Davis, MD, were the partners at Internal Medicine Associates when Dr. Godbey joined the practice. She is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these physicians; they helped shape who she is as a physician and her approach to patient care. 

Reflecting back on when Dr. Godbey was hired, Dr. Nelson says the group could not have made a better choice. “What we couldn’t know then is what a great doctor she would be for the next 33 years. She and I have been associates, colleagues, and friends that whole time. I don’t know of any doctor who deserves this award more. She is the most caring doctor I have ever known, always putting her patients’ needs and well-being above all else.”

A number of physicians have supported Dr. Godbey throughout her career, including Stephen Eppstein, MD, and Roger Eppstein, MD; this father and son pair impacted Dr. Godbey in different but significant ways. Dr. Stephen Eppstein was her town attending in medical school, the person she could go to if she ever had a question or needed direction. “He was the safe one to ask for help,” she shares. He was also the one who directed her to Internal Medicine Associates. Dr. Roger Eppstein was one of her longtime partners at USMD. Dr. Nelson and Dr. Roger Eppstein were in her “pod” at the clinic and were often the physicians Dr. Godbey turned to for advice on difficult cases and to discuss new regulations or the state of Medicine. Even though she was in a large practice, the longstanding relationships she developed over time helped her overcome the isolation that can be a struggle in corporate medicine.

As she mentioned in her message to young physicians, Dr. Godbey believes that participating in organized medicine is an important part of connecting with fellow doctors and staying up to date on changes in the profession. “It’s a critical way to build relationships and meet people that can support you in your career that you can also support,” says Dr. Godbey. “I always know that TMA and TCMS are there for me—I would feel completely out of touch if I didn’t have the bulletins from TMA and Tarrant County Medical Society. New rules, new regulations, what’s happening currently with the pandemic. They keep me informed.”

Organized medicine also provides leadership opportunities and chances to break barriers, as Dr. Godbey experienced firsthand. When she was first considered for membership by the Texas Club of Internists, they required a 100 percent vote to add new members; because of this, a number of Internists, including minorities and females, were not accepted. Finally, in 1997, the Club amended their bylaws to fight these exclusionary practices. Dr. Godbey was the first female physician to attend a Club meeting, become a regular participant of the group, and ultimately, become the president; she served in that role in 2014. “It was amazing to see the how things changed—they barely let me in, and not 20 years later I was their president,” shares Dr. Godbey. She has seen other positive shifts over the years, such as rising numbers of female medical students. “It was 20 percent women when I went to medical school—now it is over 50 percent.” 

While encouraged by the developments she has seen, Dr. Godbey believes that it is critical to continue advocating for minority and female physicians and any other groups that are not given full access to opportunities. Not just because doing so is best for individuals—it is also best for the practice of Medicine.  

While advocacy and involvement are important, Dr. Godbey cautions young physicians to maintain work/life balance. Overall, she is encouraged by what she sees. “Younger doctors are better at prioritizing their homelife than we used to be,” she admits. “Don’t let go of that balance. Keep your interests outside of Medicine—reading, gardening, exercise. Whatever it is, it helps you keep your purpose in focus.”

When she in not busy Dr. Godbey enjoys hiking, cooking, and reading. Most of all, she loves to spend time with her family, including her husband, Leighton Clark, and their children. They have a blended family, which has added many blessings to Dr. Godbey’s life. “I had one son and I ended up with two sons and three daughters,” she shares. Between the two of them they have Noah, Philip, and Meredith; daughters-in-law Ashley and Mary; and granddaughters Marianne, Elinor, and Prudence. Dr. Godbey also shares a close relationship with her sister, Susan Pantle. Whenever possible, she and Leighton enjoy spending time with Susan and her husband, Mark. 

Some things have come full circle; now that she is retired, Dr. Godbey and her husband will help watch their youngest grandchild, much as Dr. Godbey’s mother took care of Noah all those years ago when she was in medical school. “I’m excited to have the chance to give back,” says Dr. Godbey. “And to get to spend more time with Prue. I love taking care of my granddaughters.” 

Dr. Godbey’s colleagues view her career as one hallmarked by commitment to her patients; her passion for excellence and empathy in providing care is something well known throughout Tarrant County’s medical community. “Dr. Godbey has been a role-model and mentor for me throughout the years that I’ve been in practice,” says Dr. Roger Eppstein. “Always a ‘doctor’s doctor,’ she has practiced evidence-based, compassionate Medicine throughout her career.  It is no wonder why her patients have been so loyal to her.  She has been practicing thoughtful ‘value-based medicine’ even before anyone coined this term.”

In acknowledgment of Dr. Godbey’s outstanding career, the Tarrant County Medical Society is proud to congratulate her as the 2020 Gold-Headed Cane Award recipient.

Thank You, Telemedicine

By Susan Bailey, MD – AMA President

This piece was originally published in the September/October issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.

It happened twice in the same morning.

I saw two women for checkups that morning—their stories were so similar.  Both older but not elderly, living alone, physically impaired needing a walker or motorized scooter, and always very crabby at their appointments.  A litany of chronic non-specific complaints—fatigue, aching, headachey, etc.  Honestly, I was not looking forward to their visits. They never seemed satisfied, and I never felt like I had helped them much.  When I saw them both on the schedule that morning, I confess that I grimaced a bit.  

But their telemedicine visits were just the opposite of their usual in-person visits.  They both were happy, smiling, and relaxed.   The conversations were easy and their questions were few.  I anticipated much COVID-19 anxiety but found little; they were used to staying at home and hadn’t had to change their way of life much.  They both just needed refills—I would have liked to have done a physical exam, but I really didn’t need to.  

At the end of the morning, I wondered to myself what was different, and then it hit me.  They didn’t have to physically come to see me, which so many of us take for granted but for them was likely a physically draining, frustrating, expensive, humiliating, and even painful experience. Wow. Was I humbled.  

Telemedicine is a gift to some of our patients, such as parents stuck without childcare who have to bring multiple children along with them, people who lack reliable transportation, or elderly people who don’t like driving anymore but are embarrassed to ask for a ride. It can help someone two hours away who just needs a refill or a patient who can’t afford to miss work.  I could go on and on; I’ve seen cases like every example I’ve given and I’m sure many of you have, too.

The coronavirus pandemic has added a new layer of urgency to the implementation of telemedicine.  Physical distancing and shutdowns have made it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see our patients safely face to face (especially when PPE is still hard to find).  Telemedicine enables routine care to continue without the risk of exposure to the virus.  It keeps medical offices safe and in business.  

The AMA, along with many other organizations, has been developing telemedicine policy and recommendations for years.  The AMA House of Delegates approved a report from the Council on Medical Services laying out principles for coverage and payment in June 2014.  

An AMA survey in 2016 showed that 15 percent of physicians worked in a practice that utilized telemedicine in some way.1 But a far smaller percentage of actual patient encounters were done via telemedicine. 

When COVID-19 struck and communities were shutting down all over the country, the telemedicine guidelines, reimbursement policies, and the work we had already done with CMS helped the organization be ready with their new guidelines for coverage and payment, which were initially released on March 17, 2020.  

AMA had been working with the Physicians Foundation, the Texas Medical Association, the Florida Medical Association, and the Massachusetts Medical Society to create the Telehealth Initiative to provide a wide array of assistance for physicians to implement telemedicine in their practices.2  The launch of the program was not scheduled until later in the year but instead was moved up to March 19, 2020, just two days after the CMS announcement.  

Virtually every medical society in the country now has guidance available for physicians on using telemedicine. 

However, the current telemedicine coverage and payment program will only stay in effect as long as there is a national emergency, which has now been extended to the end of October 2020.  Of course, we all know that COVID-19 will not be gone then, so AMA is working with state and specialty societies to lobby Congress for permanent solutions.  

I believe that every specialty will develop its own guidelines for the appropriate use of telemedicine going forward, and every practice will utilize telemedicine to some degree.  

The genie is out of the bottle. Let’s hope it stays that way. We deserve to be compensated fairly for services regardless of location, and our patients deserve the ease of access.   

References
1. https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.2018.05077

2. https://www.ama-assn.org/press-center/press-releases/ama-supports-telehealth-initiative-improve-health-care-access

The Summer Our Lives Stood Still

By Cassidy Lane, OMS-II

This piece was originally published in the September/October issue of the Tarrant County Physician. You can read find the full magazine here.


I was 13 years old the last time that I experienced a summer break, because it was that summer that I decided that I wanted to be a physician. I spent every summer after that through high school at the Volunteer Department of the nearest Level I Trauma Center in East Texas. If I wasn’t volunteering I was shadowing, and if I wasn’t shadowing I was scribing or taking classes that would prepare me for medical school. It became a constant cycle, month in and month out for 11 years. Every one of my spring breaks, winter breaks, and summer breaks was jam-packed with exciting new medical adventures, classes, or some other activity that was someday going to get me into medical school and ultimately help me become a physician. As crazy as it sounds, my story is not unique. This is the path for many students, former, current, and future, who pursue a career as physicians. This is a way of life that we gladly accept, because for many of us the idea of doing anything else is much more depressing than spending every break of our youth working towards our future career. 

I was all geared up to spend the summer after my first year of medical school the same way. I had two in-hospital research projects lined up, was interviewing for a pediatric research program to review case studies and publish reports on the cases, and I was already looking for a summer job to bring in a little extra income during what I considered my “slow” month between the two academic years. Then, in an instant, a global pandemic hit, all my plans fell apart, and I was left with a very empty calendar during a period that was supposed to be a time for me to check all of the boxes that residency programs would want to see completed by the time I apply just three short years from now. When the initial shock wore off that a virus was capable of shutting down medical programs created and run by very people who live to combat these same types of diseases every day, it was like I had stepped  into the sunshine for the first time in 11 years. As I began to read about the attempts of countries all over the world to contain and combat the virus, I was struck by an unexpected common theme in the rest of the world that I felt within myself: rejuvenation. 

There were stories about nature being able to cleanse itself once people were no longer allowed to pour waste into it every day. Families were spending more time with one another at home, and smiles were being shared through technology all across the world because people were no longer able to go, go, go. Self-care began to emerge at the forefront of peoples’ minds, and I began to understand what it meant to take a step back and soak in the moments.  I started cooking dinner every night, I read books on history and got outside every day. At a time when uncertainty was the norm and we were all scared, I spoke with colleagues and friends who were learning and growing personally outside the realm of medicine into better spouses, friends, and students. With this fresh new start that we received, we have been able to go back to school refreshed and ready to learn about medicine and people instead of being burned out and emotionally exhausted. During the time that our medical lives stood still, our mental and emotional health was able to re-blossom into excitement about life, medicine, and being the physicians that we are destined to become. 

Join TMA and TCMS for a Legislative Update CME

On Thursday, October 15, at 6pm, Tarrant County Medical Society and Texas Medical Association are presenting “Strengthening Medicine in the 87th Texas Legislature,” a virtual CME that will cover advocacy efforts that protect the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship.

The CME will be presented by TMA President Diana Fite, MD, and moderated by former TCMS President Robert Rogers, MD.

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89052406596
Meeting ID: 890 5240 6596
Dial In: (346) 248-7799 

To find out more information about the event, contact Meyla Milian-Sanchez at (623) 570-7145 or Brian Swift at (312) 330-4894.