As spectators filled the circus tent and the performers prepared for their death-defying acts, a ten-year-old Dominic Lucia watched in horror as two of his friends, performing in a high-wire act, fell 50 feet to the concrete below. “I remember […]
" />

Director of Emergency Medicine Sees Position At New Children’s Hospital As A Dream Come True

by Jessa McClure on May 16, 2012

in Patient and Staff Stories

Dominic Lucia, MD

As spectators filled the circus tent and the performers prepared for their death-defying acts, a ten-year-old Dominic Lucia watched in horror as two of his friends, performing in a high-wire act, fell 50 feet to the concrete below.

“I remember standing there watching EMS work on them, thinking, everybody is helpless except for the couple of people who actually know what to do. So, that kind of got me thinking about [a career] in medicine,” said Dominic Lucia, MD, the Director of Emergency Medicine at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White.

An Interest in Medicine

For Dr. Lucia, seeing his friends and family risk their lives to thrill an audience was normal. Since hitting the rodeo and circus circuit with his father’s dog-riding monkey act when he was just a toddler, he knew that risks came with the territory. But watching a friend fall to his death made him feel motivated to help others in emergent situations.

(Watch Dr. Lucia’s father’s dog-riding monkey, Whiplash, in the video above.)

His passion became even more evident at the age of 15, when he witnessed a bull crush a rider’s chest.

“[The rider] died in the arena while they were working on him,” Dr. Lucia said. “That was another moment where I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to intervene at the most important time in this person’s life and his family’s life?”

“That was another moment where I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to intervene at the most important time in this person’s life and his family’s life?”

Lucia not only had an interest in medicine at an early age, but also a fondness for academics. But because his family traveled nine months out of the year, it was difficult for Lucia and his brothers and sisters to maintain a normal school schedule. His father had heard of this thing called, homeschooling, and decided that would be a good fit for his brood.

“I basically taught myself through junior high and high school, and graduated by getting my GED,” he said.

The Road to Becoming a Physician

Once he was old enough to strike out on his own and stop traveling, he got a job as a physical therapy tech in his hometown.

“That [job] gave me an opportunity to see how the hospital worked and the different types of careers out there,” Dr. Lucia said.

He persisted with the physical therapy path and ended up at Texas Woman’s University in north Texas.

“My first semester I was doing well academically and was working in another hospital,” he said. “After talking to my girlfriend, who’s now my wife, I decided I wanted to pursue a career as a physician.”

After graduating summa cum laude from TWU, Lucia attended medical school at Texas A&M College of Medicine in College Station. Near the end of his medical school training, his visited several emergency departments and emergency medicine programs and saw that Scott & White was a “really amazing place.”

“The people, the facilities, and the fact that there’s this giant, advanced medical center in a smaller town is very unique across the country,” he said. “I actually ranked Scott & White Emergency Medicine Residency first and they saw that I was worthy to be one of their residents, thankfully.”

Leaving Home For Specialized Training

Dr. Lucia even went on to serve as chief resident in his third year at Scott & White. And to gain more knowledge about pediatric emergency medicine, he left the hospital he loved to pursue a pediatric fellowship in Augusta, Georgia at the Georgia health sciences center.

“A lot of cultural aspects of the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Georgia were very similar to here,” he said. “My wife and I were committed to going there for a couple of years, and we knew we planned on returning to the Central Texas area.”

A New Opportunity

While Dr. Lucia was away from Scott & White, construction on the new children’s hospital was underway, and Dr. Keith Stone, the Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, decided he wanted to ask Dr. Lucia to become the Director of Emergency Medicine at the new hospital when he returned to Temple.

“[Dr. Lucia] was an excellent resident, had leadership skills and experience as a chief resident and I felt he would be an excellent addition to the new pediatric hospital,” Dr. Stone said. “He has outstanding communication skills and is great at building relationships with other physicians, nurses and all of the healthcare team.”

His people skills, along with his clinical skills in pediatric training made him the obvious candidate to be the medical director, Dr. Stone said.

“It was a right fit, and I’m very blessed to be in the position coming out of fellowship,” Dr. Lucia said. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”

Back With His Scott & White Family

And what did it mean to the physician to be back on Scott & White soil?

“Ever since I interviewed for Texas A&M medical school and they toured us at Scott & White, I wanted to be here,” he said. “As corny as that may sound, I’ve always wanted to be here and had an allure and attraction to this place.”

And being the Director of Emergency Medicine at the new children’s hospital is a fulfillment of a career goal and dream.

“I’m able to be with the Scott & White family, starting something essentially from the ground up, that I have trained for my whole life,” Dr. Lucia added. “That is a unique and wonderful opportunity and I’m thrilled to be here.”

Looking to the Future

Part of the physician’s goal as the new chief is to make McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White the place to take your child when there’s an urgent or emergent situation.

“I want to create an experience with every patient visit where the patient gets the absolute best care in a child-friendly environment,” he said. “I also want to make sure the family is communicated to well and is happy with the experience.”

Dr. Lucia was able to see first-hand that his goals are being reached when his own child was admitted to the hospital soon after the new facility opened in October.

“We actually had to spend the night and we were very pleased with [the experience],” he said. “It made me proud to be here.”

The doctor also has future plans not only for his patients, but for those who work with him.

“It’s worked out beautifully for me here and being part of this new facility and this new hospital in Central Texas is a dream come true.”

“What I would like to instill in those around me is communication with the patient, if they’re old enough to understand, and especially communication with the parents,” he said. “I want them to try to involve the patient and the parent in the decision-making process.”

We’re no longer in an age of medicine where the physician does a bunch of tests and makes a verdict, he said.

“For the most part, in medicine, there’s a range of options and treatments,” Dr. Lucia said. “To be able to involve the parents and explain to them what the options are and the medical opinions that we are using, is a goal of mine.”

The chief also wants to stay on top of the latest research and technology that is available.

“I think a teaching hospital allows you to do that,” he said. “There’s more research to catch things on the cutting edge.”

Although Dr. Lucia considers himself the “black sheep” of his family because he didn’t make a career out of roping and riding in rodeos, he knows that he’s in the right place.

“It’s worked out beautifully for me here and being part of this new facility and this new hospital in Central Texas is a dream come true.”

Previous post:

Next post: