From Surgeon to President of Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Continuing the Mission of Servant Leadership

Martin L. Koonsman, MD, FACS
Martin L. Koonsman, MD, FACS

By Martin L. Koonsman, MD, FACS
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

Mission accomplished. Whether you’re serving in the armed forces, flying high as an astronaut, or leading a team of colleagues to treat a patient, achieving your mission is gratifying and motivating. As the president of one of the leading hospitals in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, my focus is on providing our employees, physicians, and volunteers with the motivation and resources they need to accomplish their mission each and every day.

Every healthcare organization has a stated mission. At Methodist Dallas Medical Center, our goal is to live our mission every minute, every hour, and every day. Our mission is to improve and save lives through compassionate, quality healthcare. It’s a mission that we believe in and embrace. At the heart of our work is compassionate care that puts the patient and his or her family at the center of all that we do.

My first experience with Methodist Dallas’ mission was when I began my general surgery residency at the hospital in 1988 after graduating from Texas Tech University with my medical degree. I chose Methodist Dallas because I wanted the benefit of working in a small, top-notch surgery program where I could get more one-on-one instruction. The hospital’s renowned transplant program and busy trauma service also were draws. What I thought would be a two-year association with Methodist Dallas has turned into a 30-year career.

When I consider Methodist Dallas’ ability to say “Mission Accomplished,” I look at not only our tremendously talented and caring staff of nurses, allied healthcare professionals, and support staff, I also see our dedicated medical staff comprised of experienced, knowledgeable physicians. Throughout my years at Methodist Dallas, I have been blessed to be associated with strong clinicians who have shown me what it means to provide top-quality, patient-centered care.

In today’s healthcare environment, providing care to those in need but without the resources to pay is part of our mission. In the first six months of our current fiscal year, Methodist Dallas has provided over $80 million in uncompensated care to our community.

Over the past several years, Methodist Dallas medical staff members and employees have participated in medical missions to Malawi, Guatemala, and Peru, where they have given their personal time, talents, and compassion to those with a variety of medical and dental needs. By partnering with medical and faith-based groups, including Faith in Practice and the Peruvian American Medical Society, skilled surgeons on the medical staff and healthcare professionals have literally changed hundreds of lives by improving patients’ well-being and overall quality of life.

These medical mission trips have taught me much, broadened my concept of the word “mission,” and strengthened my resolve to lead a mission-focused organization. What I thought I was going to get out of these missions was helping others in need and experiencing what it’s like to perform surgery outside of the United States. What did I actually learn?

  • You don’t have to postpone or cancel surgery because you don’t have everything you need.
  • We take our training and skills for granted.
  • We are really fortunate in the United States.
  • Human beings have amazing determination and resilience.
  • I reconnected with the true spirit of service to humanity.

So how has being a surgeon prepared me to lead Methodist Dallas? As our health system changes to a more value-based environment, I think clinical leadership is more important than ever. We’ve developed a leadership education curriculum to help physicians on our medical staff develop these valuable skills. Today, I see more physicians sitting at the administrative table helping to guide the decisions of their institutions so we can all achieve our mission.

If you’re looking for mission-driven organization that will help you achieve your career goals, then consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at

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