(By Silas Tamuno) – The American Geriatrics Society, AGS, has named Faith Atai, MD, nee Toby, a skilled clinician and medical administrator with a dedication to teaching geriatrics trainees of all levels, its 2021 Clinician of the Year.
An Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, UTHealth, as well as Medical Director of the UT Physicians Center for Healthy Aging and the Bayland Geriatric Health Center, Dr. Atai will be honored at the AGS 2021 Virtual Annual Scientific Meeting (#AGS21) May 13-15.
“Our 2021 Clinician of the Year embodies all the best qualities of a geriatrics health professional,” said AGS President Annie Medina-Walpole, MD, AGSF. “Dr. Atai’s colleagues and trainees respect her and her patients trust her because all her work as an administrator, educator, and clinician is in service of providing the best patient care possible.”
A board-certified physician in family medicine with a certificate of added qualifications in geriatrics, Dr. Atai has played a vital role in expanding outpatient clinical geriatrics programs at UTHealth, where she helped establish a new outpatient clinic tailored for older adults in 2010. She currently serves as Medical Director for two UTHealth clinics, as well as Director of the UT Physicians House Calls Program. At these sites, she devotedly teaches medical students, trains clinical fellows and attending physicians, and supervises nurse practitioners, inspiring them to take exceptional care of older adults.
For all her documented accomplishments, Dr. Atai’s colleagues, mentees, and patients may appreciate her most for her more intangible contributions–her empathetic listening skills and compassionate bedside manner.
“Dr. Atai is the kind of physician that any of us would send their parents to,'” notes Holly M. Holmes, MD, MS, AGSF, Associate Professor and Director of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
“She treats her patients with kindness and respect, and she truly listens to their concerns.”
Dr. Atai counts among her patients not only those she sees at UTHealth, but the hospice patients she serves as a palliative care physician with VITAS Hospice. From 2012 to 2016, she worked as an attending physician and medical director at New Century Hospice in Houston, TX. In her various leadership positions, Dr. Atai has set the highest standards for interdisciplinary teamwork and advocated for policy changes that improve clinical care for older adults.
At the Bayland Geriatrics Health Center, she championed the Age-Friendly Health Systems movement, encouraging the clinic to adopt the initiative’s four evidence-based elements of high-quality geriatrics care. An AGS member since 2010, Dr. Atai received her undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria and completed her residency in family and community medicine and fellowship in geriatric medicine at the University of Texas Medical School.
The AGS Clinician of the Year Award recognizes exceptional health professionals who deliver outstanding care to older adults and who model the importance of geriatrics for our country. It is one of several honors conferred by the AGS at its Annual Scientific Meeting. The 2021 award recipients, who will be honored alongside those from 2020 at #AGS21, include 15 health leaders representing the depth and breadth of disciplines championing care for older adults. Last year’s Clinician of the Year was James Lin, DO, MS, MHSA. For more information, visit Meeting.
About the American Geriatrics Society
Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has–for more than 75 years–worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy.
The AGS Clinician of the Year Award was established to recognize the contributions of practitioners to quality health care for older people and the importance of the geriatrics clinician in our healthcare delivery system. Through awardees’ efforts, scientific advances are integrated into the practice of geriatrics, resulting in improved well-being and quality of life for older adults.