UTHSCT’s Jonathan MacClements, MD, has a passion for educating physicians, public health

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

For Doctor of the Year special section March 28, 2010 in the Longview News-Journal

Just reading the daily schedule of Jonathan MacClements, MD, a family medicine physician at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, is enough to make you tired.

On an average day, he may take care of hospitalized patients, mentor family medicine physicians-in-training, see patients in the clinic, and meet with local leaders about how to protect the community from a new strain of influenza.

Dr. MacClements, an associate professor at UTHSCT, also is chairman of the academic medical center’s Department of Family Medicine, director of medical education, and director of the Family Medicine Residency Program.

Since 2007, he has served as the Smith County Health Authority, the county’s chief public health official. That means whenever the county faces a public health threat, he has a major role in deciding how to respond to it.

In addition, Dr. MacClements volunteers as a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Medical Rangers, serves as the medical advisor on the Hospice of East Texas board, and has been president of the Smith County Medical Society.

When asked how he can possibly do all these things, Dr. MacClements says, “Like all of my colleagues, I am surrounded by good people who make my work easier. I also have a very supportive family.”

Dr. MacClements is a strong believer in the importance of basic health care provided by family medicine physicians.

“Family medicine is a wonderfully diverse and challenging specialty. One moment you may be taking care of an infant with a sore ear, then an adolescent with learning difficulties, or a senior citizen with chronic health-care problems, before heading to the hospital or emergency room to visit your sick patients,” he says. “Being able to provide continuing medical care for patients and their families is extremely rewarding.”

Physician-training programs such as UTHSCT’s Family Medicine Residency Program are essential, he says, because Texas will need an additional 40,000 physicians by 2025.

“Our residency program ensures that we continue to attract some of the brightest new doctors to East Texas, many of whom then make this area their home,” Dr. MacClements says.

Graduates of the program now practice in East Texas cities such as Longview, Gilmer, Gladewater, Henderson, Lindale, Overton, and Tyler.

And medical residents tend to keep physician faculty members at academic medical centers such as UTHSCT on their toes.

“In order to teach a student, you have to master the subject. That raises your personal skills to the next level, which ultimately results in better care for patients. It ensures that we stay current with the latest medical knowledge and best technology,” Dr. MacClements says.

It’s clear that the London native also has a passion for public service, especially in the realm of public health.

“Public health promotes physical and mental health, and prevents disease, injury, and disability in a community. An effective public health system ensures that a community has clean drinking water, safe food, animal control, disaster preparedness, and vaccination programs, to name just a few,” he says.

“Just imagine what our community would be like without these services,” Dr. MacClements says.

Dr. MacClements was educated at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and received his medical degree in 1989.

He also received additional training in general and ear, nose, and throat surgery at the University of Pretoria.

Then he came to the United States for his specialty training, graduating from UTHSCT’s Family Medicine Residency Program in 1996, where he was chief resident.

Dr. MacClements is board certified in family medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He and his wife became U.S. citizens in 2005.

His interests outside of medicine include flying his 1965 Cherokee and mastering the bagpipes. He is married to Verlaine, and they have a daughter, Victoria, age 12.

For 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatments, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. With an operating budget of more than $125 million and biomedical research funding that exceeds $10 million annually, UTHSCT has a major economic impact on East Texas. Its two medical residency programs – in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities in East Texas and beyond.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.