(Austin, TX) – The Travis County Medical Society will recognize at an upcoming ceremony two local physicians who are leaders at Central Health and CommUnityCare Health Centers.
Dr. Guadalupe “Pete” Zamora, Chair of the Central Health Board of Managers, is to be awarded The Gold Headed Cane Physician of the Year, and Dr. Alan Schalscha, CommUnityCare Health Centers’ Chief Medical Officer, will be recognized as the Humanitarian of the Year.
The Gold Headed Cane Physician of the Year is presented to a physician member with 20 or more years of experience who is considered and admired by their colleagues as a model physician.
“I am honored and humbled that my colleagues have bestowed this award to me. When I got the phone call, I cried,” Dr. Zamora said. “I didn’t think I had done anything differently to earn the award. I’m just doing what our professors, mentors, and mothers taught us to do – be nice, take care of people, and do the right thing.” Dr. Zamora has 31 years of experience as a practicing physician. He and his niece, Dr. Belda Zamora, practice together at a family clinic in East Austin.
In 2013, Dr. Zamora was appointed to the Central Health Board of Managers by the Travis County Commissioners Court. In 2014, he was appointed to the Integral Care Board. He has also served as president, secretary, and treasurer of the Travis County Medical Society and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin and St. David’s Medical Center.
Dr. Zamora earned his medical degree from The University of Texas (UT) Medical Branch in Galveston in 1985. After graduating, he moved to Corpus Christi where he completed a Family Practice Residency at Memorial Medical Center, where he also later served as Chief Resident for the Family Practice Department. Upon successfully completing his residency, he moved to Austin and established his private practice with his brother Dr. Santiago Zamora. In 1988, Dr. Zamora received his Board Certification in Family Practice.
Growing up poor in San Antonio, he had first-hand experience with the effects of poverty on health, but somehow his mother always scraped up enough money for he and his siblings to see a doctor when they were ill. “Dr. Masters [Dr. Zamora’s family physician] would come in with a cup of coffee, cigarette, a notecard, and an empathetic and nurturing attitude,” Dr. Zamora said. “I likened him to iconic television family physician Dr. Marcus Welby. He was my role model. I wanted to be him,” Dr. Zamora said, adding with a smile, “Minus the cigarette.”
The award serves as an inspiration to younger doctors and encourages them in family, social, civic, and professional life to cultivate character that earns the respect and goodwill of colleagues and the profession at large. Nominators recognized many reasons why Dr. Zamora was an appropriate recipient, including his knowledge, integrity, service to the community, humility, and compassion for patients and fellow workers.
Humanitarian of the Year
The medical society recognizes Dr. Schalscha as humanitarian of the year for his many years of health outreach efforts to some of the most poverty-stricken places in the world. The award is presented to a physician member of the Travis County Medical Society who provides exceptional volunteer service to others, beyond the normal scope of practice.
For the past 16 years, Dr. Schalscha has volunteered as a board member of DOCARE International, a medical outreach organization dedicated to providing health care to under-served communities around the world. As mission medical director of DOCARE, he annually leads a team of 70-100 providers and students to Guatemala, and was instrumental in the establishment of two permanent continuity clinics in San Andres, Colombia and Tecpan, Guatemala.
“I think humanitarian work is extremely important to me because access to health care is a human right,” said Dr. Schalscha.“Being awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award is exciting. The fact that the Travis County Medical Society and colleagues deem advocating for under-resourced individuals as being important is something to celebrate.”
Dr. Schalscha is also an affiliate clinical associate professor at Dell Medical School at UT Austin, and helps integrate health care into clinical education. He graduated from UT with two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree prior to entering medical school. He received his medical degree from Midwestern University and completed his residency in family medicine.
The award ceremony for both awards will be held Dec. 5, 2019at the Travis County Medical Society Annual Business Meeting and Award Ceremony. Every year, the medical society members nominate three local physicians for recognition: the Gold Headed Cane for Physician of the Year, The Humanitarian of the Year, and The Ruth M. Bain Young Physician of the Year.