Without A Trip To India, UTSW Grad Wouldn’t Have Been Awarded Its Highest Honor

It started with a trip to India.

For Dr. Andrew Avery, medicine is an unexpected opportunity he found while pursuing engineering on a study abroad trip there. But when he saw the individual impact that serving people could bring and the medical needs present in other parts of the world, he was hooked.

Now years later, Southwestern Medical Foundation awarded him with its highest honor, the Ho Din Award. He accepted the award last Saturday at the UT Southwestern Medical School graduation.

“I’m deeply humbled by receiving this award,” Avery said. “Especially considering how my other classmates are deserving of it as well. I think we’ve learned that through this experience we recognize satisfaction in our work rather than ourselves.”

After studying abroad in India and Greece, Avery decided to emphasize in international medicine. After working with Dr. Christo Philip on his first trip to India, Avery was invited back to study under him at Duncan Hospital, a missionary hospital. He considers Philip a great mentor: This second trip to India helped him decide to specialize in general surgery.

“There’s a lot of things that attract people to the medical field but for me it was the desire for service and that can take a lot of forms,” Avery said.

He volunteers with many organizations, including No One Dies Alone, where students hold vigils for patients at Parkland Memorial Hospital who have no other family or loved ones during their final hours. The program was started by Avery’s classmate Evan Ross while the two were in medical school. Even though he wasn’t serving patients through medicine, he said he was glad to be able to serve the patients’ sense of humanity through the organization.

The Ho Din Award, which means “the spirit of medical wisdom” in Greek, was created on May 5, 1943. Established by Dr. Edward H. Cary, the founder and first president of Southwestern Medical Foundation, the award is given to a graduate who is compassionate, has a deep level of human understanding, the school says. The grandson of Dr. Edward H. Cary, Edward H. Cary III presented Avery with his award Saturday.

“There is no doubt that Dr. Andrew Avery will make UT Southwestern proud to count him as one of its illustrious graduates,” Cary said in a statement. “Seventy five years ago, my grandfather’s vision – to bring the highest quality health care to the citizens of this community – began to come true when he formed Southwestern Medical Foundation. Today, Andrew truly exemplifies the spirit and principles upon which my grandfather founded Southwestern Medical College.”

Avery plans to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee for his residency in general surgery.

“I think receiving this award says a lot about the organization,” Avery said. “I hope that service will remain a priority and has to be what they’re looking for.”

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