Family lore sparks a memorable career, connection to UTHealth
The family lore about Dr. David Grayson began when he was eight years old. While recovering from a traumatic head injury at Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu, the young boy reportedly told his mother he wanted to be a doctor. Though he doesn’t remember saying it, what started as a family story became his life’s mission.
However, the young boy’s dream almost didn’t happen. Adjusting to the rigor of Duke University during his freshman year was challenging and his grades were not stellar. And, although his grades were much higher during his last three of undergraduate study, he worried about his chances of medical school admission.
“I had very good MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores but my GPA was affected by my freshman year grades,” said Dr. Grayson, who spent his early school years in Hawaii and then later in Dallas with his family. “I applied to numerous medical schools. Only one accepted me and that was the University of Texas Medical School in Houston (now McGovern Medical School at UTHealth).”
Dr. Grayson, who now lives in Austin, believes his MCAT scores and his personal interview helped him gain admission, and he has always been grateful to what was then a very young medical school. “The admissions committee took a chance on me and I’ve never forgotten it.”
He was deeply affected by the late C. Frank Webber, MD, who was chair of the department of family and community medicine, the area Dr. Grayson studied in residency. “I considered him my mentor,” he said. “Every once in a while, he announced an outing for family practice students. He would take us to medical facilities in the Rio Grande Valley to teach us what primary care looked like in a non-medical center setting.” Webber was later dean of the medical school for just a few months before his death at age 51 of a heart-related ailment.
Dr. Grayson completed his family practice residency years in Waco at Providence Hospital and Hillcrest Baptist Hospital by 1985. He practiced in Hawaii for 10 years before returning to Austin in 1996 where he began to mix seeing patients in the office with doing emergency room shifts. “I found working in the emergency room challenging,” he said. “I found my background was well-suited to providing emergency care, which I think is essentially higher acuity family medicine.”
Retired in December at 62, Dr. Grayson said he has spent time reflecting on his career. He visited McGovern Medical School recently with his fiancée; sat in on a class, and visited with Dean Barbara J. Stoll, MD. “The visit brought it all back to me and I felt an indescribable kind of gratitude to UTHealth,” he said. “I received an amazing gift of an affordable medical education. It made me want to give back.”
“Giving back” for him meant establishing an endowed scholarship for medical school students. He named the scholarship the David Dillard Grayson, Sr. and Inge Grayson Scholarship in memory of his late father and in honor of his stepmother, whom he says were supportive of him throughout medical school. He hopes to add to the scholarship with a gift through his estate.
Retirement is providing Dr. Grayson with more time to travel, snow ski, and play guitar and golf. And he will continue to be thankful for the family lore that actually came true.