Herbert L. and Margaret W. DuPont Master Clinical Teaching Award: Jennifer Swails, MD


By Roman Petrowski, Office of Communications

Jennifer Swails Teaching Excellence Award

Jennifer Swails, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine, is the winner of the 2019 Herbert L. and Margaret W. DuPont Master Clinical Teaching Award.

Established in 2001 and made possible by a gift from the DuPonts, the award recognizes and preserves the essence and quality of the master clinical teacher, reflecting McGovern Medical School’s top priority of quality clinical medical education.

Swails said she was surprised to receive the award, but is humbled to be included among the list of faculty who have previously won the award.

“I was shocked and so very grateful,” Swails said. “We have a team of fantastic educators here at McGovern, and we have all been working hard together. It is wonderful of the DuPont family to provide this mechanism for supporting our work. Looking over the past recipients, I see many of the faculty who have mentored and inspired me. I hope I can live up to their legacy.”

When it comes to teaching, Swails said she knows that being a physician is meaningful work, but that we still see an epidemic of burnout and dissatisfaction among trainees. Her teaching philosophy balances self-care and initiatives to improve work-life balance as well as skills to allow students to enjoy the practice of medicine.

“I try to teach joy in practice,” Swails said. “In core teaching at the bedside, we cultivate curiosity and a sense of discovery as we interview and examine a patient. I hope strong team skills will allow students to form meaningful relationships with colleagues from all professions.”

Swails, who joined the Division of General Internal Medicine in 2012, is director of the Internal Medicine residency program. She graduated from Cornell University Medical School and completed residency training in internal medicine and primary care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is board certified in internal medicine. Swails also is the co-director of UTHealth’s Center for Interprofessional Education.

Swails said she would like to thank both Phillip Orlander, MD, and Patricia Butler, MD, for being her mentors. She says Orlander has been her most important mentor since her first day on faculty, while Butler has been instrumental in her growth and has been highly supportive while developing their interprofessional simulations.

Swails also thanked Peggy Hsieh, MEd, PhD, and Allison Ownby, MEd, PhD, for their Health Educators Fellowship Program to give her a backbone of educational knowledge, while Gabriel M. Aisenberg, MD, has provided important feedback and methods of learner motivation.

Previous recipients of the DuPont award are J. Chase Findley, MD, 2018; Don Molony, MD, 2017; Erin Furr Stimming, MD, 2016; Gabriel Aisenberg, MD, 2015; Mark Hormann, MD, 2014; Mark Farnie, MD, 2013; John Foringer, MD, 2012;  Pedro Mancias, MD, 2011; Phil Johnson, MD, 2010; Francisco Fuentes, MD, 2009; Cheves Smythe, MD, 2008; Eugene Toy, MD, 2007; John Sparks, MD, 2006; Victor Lavis, MD, 2005; Philip Orlander, MD, 2004; Ian Butler, MD, 2003; Patrick Brosnan, MD, 2002; and Frank Arnett, MD, 2001.