is the father of pediatric radiology in Tarrant County.When he
retired a year ago after a 31-year medical career, he
left behind a cutting-edge pediatric radiology department in a regional children's medical center, created at a time when neither existed.Dr. Tom Lipscomb
is a rarity: a true pioneer in his
chosen field. This fall, the Tarrant County Medical Society honors Dr. Lipscomb
legacy with the society's Gold-Headed Cane Award (an official one to complement the one he
already owns).The actual Gold-Headed Cane is a replica of a cane from the Royal College of Physicians
in London that was continuously carried from 1689 to 1823 by the most outstanding London practitioner of the times.
"I made rounds with him on Saturdays and Sundays when I was in grade school," Dr. Lipscomb
said."You don't see your dad a lot when he's
a doctor.When I was in junior high, I would go with him to see patients at the bedside, and I really got a feel for what he
was doing - the successes and the sadness when there were problems that couldn't be resolved."Although he
was born in Dallas when his
father was in medical school there, the Lipscombs moved to Fort Worth in 1949, and Dr. Lipscomb
attended Mary Louise Phillips Elementary School
, Stripling, then Monnig Junior High and graduated from Arlington Heights High School
.While in ninth grade, he
met and had his
first date with Lou Ann, the future Mrs. Lipscomb
.The pair attended college at Texas Christian University
and took one year off as a couple when they were sophomores, but have been together ever since. At the time, there was a program that allowed students to enter medical school early, so Dr. Lipscomb entered the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School after his third year at TCU, officially earning his bachelor's degree in 1961 with a full year of medical school already under his belt.During medical school, Dr. Lipscomb said that he had kept an open mind when it came to selecting a medical specialty, but when he earned his medical degree in 1964, he took off for the University of Iowa and a rotating internship, fully intending to follow in his father's footsteps in orthopedics
Instead, while learning to read X-rays during an internal medicine rotation, Dr. Lipscomb
discovered the world of radiology. "Radiology is like pathology or family practice," Dr. Lipscomb
explained."You get to do everything.You don't have to narrow down your interests.One minute, you're looking at an obstetrics problem and the next, a child's kidney or an adult's broken bone in trauma.The diversity interested me.I restricted my practice to pediatric radiology later, thus maintaining a variety of medical experiences on a daily basis."After finding his
passion in radiology, Dr. Lipscomb
remained in Iowa for another year studying diagnostic radiology.He got hands-on training working as a radiologist while serving two years in the Air Force, then completed his residency in St. Louis, where he also spent a year as an instructor in pediatric radiology.
In 1970, he
gathered up Lou Ann and their two sons and headed home to Texas. Dr. Lipscomb set up shop with Radiology Associates
, the same group he
retired from in July 2001.He
started out doing general radiology in addition to pediatric radiology.Dr. Lipscomb was the first full-time pediatric radiologist in Fort Worth, and for many years he was the only one.In 1974, Dr. Lipscomb established the first local pediatric radiology department at Fort Worth Children's Hospital, and became the radiologist at Cook Children's Hospital in 1980.
started the first department, he
spent half his
time with pediatrics, the other half with general radiology.The pediatric radiology department consisted of one room.A second room housed a portable X-ray machine for emergencies.If a young patient required a CT scan or more specialized equipment, those diagnostic tests were performed at nearby Harris Hospital
.When the department expanded to include ultrasound, a second permanent room was added to the department, but the ultrasound equipment itself was not so permanent."When we got our first ultrasound, we still were operating in two hospitals.We had one technician and one piece of equipment that weighed 150 pounds," Dr. Lipscomb
said."We would roll the ultrasound machine into a panel truck and strap it in for the trip to the other children's hospital eight blocks away."
Not only was Dr. Lipscomb
among a group of medical professionals who treated Dr. Bowman to lunch on his first visit to Fort Worth, on his second day on the job, his oldest daughter needed Dr. Lipscomb's expertise.
diagnosed the fracture and helped by introducing us to the doctors who cared for her
.Two years later, her
younger sister injured her
knee.On the plain X-rays, it appeared that something else might be wrong, and Dr. Lipscomb
went out of his
way to get answers as quickly as possible and was very reassuring.""It's important when dealing with children to make the right diagnosis and to do it with haste," Dr. Lipscomb
said."Children can get sick quickly, and they can get well quickly.I would do whatever was necessary to move ahead.What's important is the child's well-being."Dr. Lipscomb
took that philosophy into his
work and into the department he
helped establish when the two local children's hospitals merged in 1989, becoming Cook Children's Medical Center
.He served as medical director of radiology until 1994.
When the combined facility opened, the once part-time pediatric radiology department was full time with two radiologists.The department has grown to three full-time radiologists who are kept busy."Over the years, we all leaned on Tom and now on the department that he built," said Dr. Gary Strong, a pediatrician with a hospitalists' group that practices at Cook's.
pioneering career in pediatric radiology, Dr. Lipscomb
kept up with rapidly changing technology.
"There was never even a hiccup in Tom
or in the department in advancing.They are right there on the curve.Everybody valued Tom's
never showed the stress of his
department's challenges."These days, Dr. Lipscomb
deserved time off.He
plays golf again, enjoys hunting, photography and the study of fine wine, and life with Lou Ann and an English cocker spaniel named Abigail.There's time for the grandkids, 6-year-old Crosby and 3-year-old Lucas, sons of the Lipscombs' younger son, Cuvier.Their oldest son, Mike, the furniture craftsman, died tragically in a car accident in June."This will be one for him," Dr. Lipscomb
said of his
Gold-Headed Cane honor. Dr. Lipscomb
said that being the next cane recipient was unexpected and that it's taken a long time to settle in.He
doesn't credit his
own efforts for the honor."It has been a team effort," Dr. Lipscomb
said, "from my father setting an example for me that I tried to live up to, to my mother, the high school English teacher, who read my papers and has been supportive and helpful in the education process and in life; and to my wife, who is the best.You could not practice medicine and do it well without a wife who's doing more then her
share of the parenting and the homemaking.It's easy to do something you love to do when all the hard stuff in life is taken care of."
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