Stethoscopes connect generations of UNTHSC physicians


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By Alex Branch

Patrick Prazak

Patrick Prazak was a high school baseball player who hoped to one day play professionally until his elbow started locking up after games.

He underwent surgery, but soon after his shoulder started aching.

As a freshman player at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, he realized medical treatments, rehabilitation time and school work was too heavy a load. He gave up baseball and instead became determined to attend UNT Health Science Center, become a sports medicine physician and help injured athletes like himself.

The brand new Littman Cardiology IV stethoscope he received as a first-year student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was a big moment for Prazak. It was engraved with the name Cliff J. Whigham Jr., DO, a 1976 TCOM alumnus, who sponsored it.

“No one forgets their first stethoscope,” Prazak said. “It means a lot to know that TCOM alumni care about the students who follow in their footsteps and want to invest in us.”

The stethoscope was one of 230 awarded to new students through a UNTHSC program that allows alumni and community members to sponsor a student doctor’s stethoscope for $250. Dr. Whigham sponsored six stethoscopes this year.

The stethoscopes’ tubing is inscribed with the student’s name and the bell can be inscribed with the sponsor’s name or a few words of inspiration.

Incoming students write letters of appreciation to their sponsors. In his letter, Prazak told Dr. Whigham about his injuries that required medical care and ended his baseball career.

“Through those experiences, though, I learned to love medicine,” Prazak wrote. “I want to help people in situations like I was in both physically and emotionally. Your donation will give me a wonderful start as I continue to pursue this dream.”

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