College of Science News
College of Science alumnus honored for excellence in healthcare
A UTA College of Science alumnus who regularly donates his time, talents and financial resources to the College, University and the community has been recognized with a prestigious award for his service.
Dr. Ignacio Nuñez, M.D., an OB/GYN at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital since 1983 and a partner with Family Healthcare Associates in Arlington, was named a recipient of the 2018 Health Care Hero Award by the Fort Worth Business Press. The award recognizes excellence among health care professionals, administrators and volunteers in the D-FW Metroplex.
Nuñez received the award during a reception and dinner at the City Club of Fort Worth on February 8.
Nuñez, who was named a Distinguished Alumnus by UTA in 2010, is chair of the College of Science Advisory Council and regularly donates his time to talk with and mentor UTA pre-med students. During his 35-year professional career in Arlington, he has served in leadership positions on numerous boards and committees.
“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of my wife, who makes it all possible, as well as my patients, partners, hospital, peers and especially the University,” he said. “They have given me this opportunity to serve my community and alma mater.”
He says he was inspired to seek a career in medicine by his time in the Boy Scouts, where he learned that “service to others was for me one of most valuable qualities that I could aspire to,” and also by the death of a friend when he was young.
“Medicine, being a healer, has allowed me to have a career of service to others that has provided me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” Nuñez said. “I have delivered thousands of babies and performed countless surgeries during my career and have been rewarded a thousand fold.”
Nuñez’s parents, Ignacio and Carmen, instilled in him the importance of education, and he became the first member of his family to receive a college degree when he graduated from UTA with a B.S. in Biology in 1975. He went on to earn his M.D. from UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1979. He served an internship at Methodist Hospital in Dallas from 1979-80 and his residency in OB/GYN at Methodist Hospital and Parkland Hospital in Dallas from 1980-83. He was in private practice for two years before becoming a partner with Family Healthcare Associates in 1985.
As chair of the College of Science Advisory Council, Nuñez helps to advise and counsel the dean and College leadership on important matters impacting strategy, programs, the future of the College and external affairs. In addition to coming to campus to speak with pre-med students each year, Nuñez is involved with the Pre-Medical Student Preceptorship Program, a joint effort between UTA and Texas Health Resources (THR). The program pairs pre-med students and physician-mentors and allows students to shadow doctors in hospital settings and learn firsthand about the profession that they hope to enter.
“I get invited every year, and I love speaking to the freshmen and trying to give them a feel for the life of a physician,” he says. “I also enjoy mentoring upper level pre-med students through the preceptorship program. The students are with me as I see patients in my office and they’re able to see me perform robotic surgery in the operating room.”
College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi says the Health Care Hero Award is a fitting accolade for Nuñez.
“I’m delighted to see this award given to Dr. Nuñez for all of his efforts in health care,” Khaledi said. “He has given tirelessly of himself over the years, not just in his profession but as a mentor to UTA students and as a goodwill ambassador for UTA. I rely a great deal on his experience and advice through his role on the Advisory Council, and I want to thank him for all of his contributions to the College.”
Nuñez says the values instilled in him as a Boy Scout – leadership, integrity and the desire to help others – were reinforced and improved upon during his time at UTA. He champions UTA and the College of Science at every opportunity and his enthusiasm for the University is, to use a medical term, contagious.
“The value of a degree from this University is immeasurable,” Nuñez said. “We have become without equivocation one of the best universities in the United States, and I am one of its biggest cheerleaders because without the education I received here, I wouldn’t be where I am today. UTA’s role is to make dreams possible. If we can dream it, then our University can make it happen.”
In 2010, Nunez and his wife, Lynda, established the Carmen Trujillo Nuñez Pre-Med Scholarship in honor of his mother. They also created the Evelyn Anita Sawyer Ray Endowed Scholarship in English, in honor of Lynda’s mother.
Nuñez currently serves as medical director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology and Robotic Surgery at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. Over his career, he has served as board chair at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital; president of the medical staff and chair of the OB-GYN department at Texas Health Arlington Memorial; chair of the THR Physician Leadership Policy Council, which helps set policies for the 17 hospitals of the THR healthcare system; board member of THR and of the THR Medical Foundation; and former chair of the THR Physician Leadership Council.
In 2014, he received the DFW Hospital Council Foundation’s Physician of the Year Award and was named Texas Health Arlington Memorial Physician of the Year. He has twice been named a “Top Doc” in Fort Worth Magazine.
Nuñez said that if he could change one thing to improve health care for everyone, it would be to have all people embrace the concept that “we as a society in this great country should always have the compassion – and more importantly, the empathy – to make sure that all people have access to health care and that it should never bankrupt a family or an individual.”
Asked for what advice he would give to students who want to enter the health care profession, Nuñez said they should have a strong desire to serve others and should always strive to be advocates for their patients and for the medical profession itself.
“You will be a healer and you will be rewarded in your heart and soul for the good work that you do,” he said. “In spite of the changes in the economic environment that I have witnessed in my career, in my opinion, being a doctor has been the calling of my life and I would do it all over again.”