For the past 43 years, Thomas Peterson, PhD, has been a dedicated faculty member at Texas A&M University, contributing significantly to the field of medicine and teaching. His journey began at the age of 16 with a summer job working in a hospital as a surgical floor orderly where he then progressed to being a surgery orderly in the operating room, and eventually trained as a surgical technician. He did this all through college. He then joined the Air Force serving for four years as a surgical technician, where he helped perform more than 2,000 operations.
However, Peterson soon realized that he did not have the emotional makeup to become a doctor. Instead, he decided to pursue his passion for teaching and mentoring future health care professionals. Thanks to the GI Bill, he was able to continue his education after completing his time in the military and obtained his PhD in Medical Physiology from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. This was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Peterson’s journey at Texas A&M University began with his appointment to the School of Medicine. He was immediately impressed with the positive attitude and support from the administration, staff, and students. Despite intending to stay for only a few years, Peterson ended up spending 43 years at Texas A&M, dedicating his time to research, teaching, and service.
During the first half of his career at Texas A&M, Peterson balanced teaching and research as a tenure-track faculty member. He spent the majority of his time on his research on neural and hormonal regulation of the circulation and the kidney, this being funded by the National Institutes of Health and affiliates of the American Heart Association. After 20 years, he decided to change his focus entirely to teaching and service, serving on various committees and chairing such as Animal Care and Use in Research, Admissions, Department Faculty Tenure & Promotions, Student Promotions, and the HSC Faculty Senate. He also chaired Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accreditation subcommittees, curriculum creation, and evaluation subcommittees, and was also a charter member of the College of Medicine Academy of Distinguished Medical Educators and a chair of this group.
Peterson’s dedication extended beyond the classroom, as he was also the faculty advisor to the Christian Medical Association (CMA) student chapter for more than 30 years. He led medical mission trips to Mexico, Uganda, and Peru, providing valuable hands-on experience for medical students interested in global health.
Peterson’s experiences at Texas A&M have carried over to his current role with the School of Engineering Medicine. As an original member of the faculty having moved to ENMED in 2019, he takes the attitude of serving as needed. He takes satisfaction in his willingness to serve in any capacity he is asked to, and, when necessary, provides knowledge, advice, and his experiences to colleagues.
Peterson’s extensive experiences and dedication to medical education have made him a valuable asset to the ENMED community. His unique perspective, gained from his experiences first beginning as a surgical technician and then as a long-time medical school faculty member involved in research, teaching, and service, has allowed him to provide valuable insights to his students.
In his own words, “I found my calling in teaching and mentoring future health care professionals. It has been a privilege to watch them grow and succeed in their careers. I am grateful for my time at Texas A&M, and I am excited to continue serving in my new role with this exciting new ENMED program.” Peterson’s dedication to his students and his passion for teaching has left a lasting impact on the health care community, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations of health care professionals.