Team Member Spotlight | Alan Sbar, Associate Professor and Unit Medical Director
As part of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center's mission to promote healthier communities across West Texas and beyond, TTUHSC Managed Care has partnered with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to provide health care services to correctional facilities across the state – oftentimes to patients with great need who have never had access to these services before.
At TTUHSC, everyone plays a vital role. Being part of the TTUHSC team means being
part of a supportive community where you can grow and thrive in a values-based culture
that puts people first. As ambassadors of our mission and culture, our incredible
team members go above and beyond every day in exemplifying our values: Beyond Service,
Kindhearted, Integrity, One Team, and Visionary. We are excited to share their stories.
Meet Alan Sbar, MD, FACS, Associate Professor in the School of Medicine and Medical Director at the Clements Unit for Managed Care
How long have you worked at TTUHSC, and what is your role?
I initially came to TTUHSC as an Associate Professor of Surgery in 2014. I continued in that role as a General Surgeon until October 2020, when I took on the job of Medical Director at the Clements Unit under Managed Care. Under Managed Care, I also provide surgical services at the Montford Unit in Lubbock two times per week for standard operations. I continue to occasionally take trauma call at a regional hospital with the TTUHSC surgical group.
How did you come to work at TTUHSC? Can you tell us about your career journey to (or
within) our institution?
I did my training with the military; my initial postings included Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for training, and then Würzburg, Germany, for four years after that. After leaving the Army, I worked as a General Surgeon in a small community hospital in Wisconsin for eight years. I was actually in Amarillo looking at fellowship opportunities to add to my Wisconsin practice when I received the offer to join the TTUHSC Department of Surgery.
What do you enjoy about your work, or what excites you most about your job?
Like most surgeons, the immediate correction of a problem through procedural skills provides immense satisfaction. As Medical Director, I get to broaden my focus, seeing patients with chronic and acute problems. I feel I bring additional procedural skills to the job. The correctional setting is one where a provider feels they are really needed, as many inmates had little to no medical care prior to incarceration. It is really making a difference for an underserved population.
Which of the values (One Team, Kindhearted, Integrity, Visionary, and Beyond Service)
is most integral to your job or team? Why?
The One Team approach is essential to our practice. I am responsible for a group of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants, and we share a small office “pod” where we can all see and hear one another easily. This makes for easy collaboration and sharing of information and advice.
I think all practitioners must have an element of Beyond Service. Given the nature of our work, we cannot always be sure the patient will be available for medical workup or follow-up. Count times may restrict them to their cell, or they may have reasons to refuse testing or treatment which have little to do with their medical condition. It is our responsibility to determinedly follow up and check on these patients, beyond what the electronic medical record may show us.
How would you describe the culture at TTUHSC?
We are a very collegial group here at the Clements Unit, discussing our cases of interest every day and working out how best to manage the medical problems we see within the system.
What do you enjoy most about where you live, and what makes you proud to call West
I grew up on the East Coast, in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When I came to San Antonio for surgical residency, I knew I would eventually make my way back to live in Texas. It only took another 12 years! After traveling and living in many different places, I found Amarillo to be the perfect size–big enough to have everything you need but still small enough that I don’t need to live in a downtown apartment to be ten minutes from work. People are friendlier here.
What do you wish more people knew about your team or department or our institution?
That we operate a regular, mainly primary care practice. We see our patients in regular exam rooms and treat the same conditions you would see outside of the correctional facility – high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, infections, COVID, and anything else a person might go to the doctor for.
What most excites you about the future at TTUHSC?
There are a lot of opportunities, and management has been accommodating in expanding our scope. Since I arrived, we have added an on-site Ultrasound Tech and acquired our own ultrasound equipment for point-of-care use. We bought new, modern laparoscopic equipment for the Montford Unit to expand the types of surgeries performed there. Telemedicine continues to be part of our service delivery, connecting our patients with specialists for visits that would otherwise be difficult to arrange. Additionally, we will be adding PICC line capability to expand our ability to treat inmates needing long-term IV access. We continue to look for new ways to meet our patients’ medical needs.
What would you tell people who are considering a position at TTUHSC?
There are lots of opportunities, and some are in areas you may not have thought of. I certainly did not think I would come to be the Medical Director of a mainly primary care-based practice when I accepted the surgery position in 2014!
Ready for a rewarding career where you can build relationships and make a real difference?
View our current openings and apply now, or explore what makes TTUHSC such a great place to work.
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