Internal Medicine-Pediatrics Program Director's Message

“To be engaged in some small way in the revival of one of the great cities of the world is to live a meaningful existence by default.”
- Chris Rose, 1 Dead in Attic: Post-Katrina Stories 

While I was not born in New Orleans, I have lived here for nearly 20 years. I moved here to attend Tulane Med School two years before Hurricane Katrina arrived, the levees failed, and the city flooded. Two years later I began Med/Peds residency at Tulane; I stayed on as a pediatric chief resident, and then as a med/peds hospitalist.  Prior to my med school interview, I had never visited this storied city, but quickly became infatuated with its culture and character. New Orleans has music, food, and a personality all its own, and I soon fell deeply in love with the city and its people.

Staying in New Orleans long-term was never part of my life plan; Katrina changed that. Tulane Med School temporarily relocated to Houston for the 2005-2006 school year and being removed from the city and its people made me realize how much I had grown to identify as a New Orleanian. 

The Tulane Med/Peds residency program in many ways parallels the great city of New Orleans and its’ people.

The people of New Orleans are warm and welcoming, regardless of where you’re from or what you look like. Being different here is more normal than being “normal.” Strangers are treated as friends, and people dance like no one is watching.

The people of New Orleans are brave, proud, and steadfast. We live below sea level in a city where progress can move slowly. In spite of (and sometimes because of) its inefficiencies, New Orleans works its way into the soul. Louis Armstrong famously sang “Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?”. This city is not for everyone, but those who become New Orleanians are New Orleanians for life (even if they move away). 

The people of New Orleans are resilient and tenacious. When entire neighborhoods were washed away, the people came back and rebuilt. When COVID-19 shut down live music venues, neighbors held outdoor, socially-distanced front porch concerts to support local musicians. 

Since becoming program director, I have come to appreciate these same qualities in the Med/Peds residents at Tulane. They have shown unparalleled resilience through a series of setbacks. They were among the first physicians in the US to treat COVID-19. Just as pandemic restrictions began to loosen, Tulane was thrust into the center of a national conversation about racism and sexism in medicine after the removal of the former med/peds program director. Through it all, our residents have remained steadfast to one another. They are not afraid to pose tough questions to those with the power to change things, and they advocate relentlessly for one another and for their patients. They have welcomed a new class of interns with warmth and enthusiasm and continue to advocate for their patients with pride and tenacity.

Training at Tulane means embracing the challenge and privilege of caring for a unique and vulnerable group of people, in a vibrant and unparalleled city, with an incredible group of co-residents and faculty to support and mentor you. I look forward to discussing with you how Tulane Med/Peds residents and leadership are working to strengthen our program and its mission to serve the people of New Orleans! 

--Dr. DeBord