Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"I just returned after attending Jim's.funeral .It was a sad farewell ,at the same time a tribute to a remarkable life. It was attended by people from all over U.S.A.; people who's lives were touched by Jim one way or other. His father offered the euology which was emotional and fitting tribute to a wonderful young man.

On my flight to New Jersey , I read the web page postings. It is amazing that at such an young age, Jim was able to touch so many lives so profoundly. He was able to make an impression on people who have known him only briefly.

I am going to give a different perspective about Jim. I am the chairman of the dept of Rehab. Med. at the Kansas University. During the last 6 months ,I watched with admiration the beginning a leader, teacher, clinician and a rising star in our field. Two yrs ago, University Hospital decided to start a spine center. The leadership of it was offered to our dept. and I was asked to recruit a medical director. I contacted a friend of mine at RIC and he recommended Jim McLean. He said "don't worry that he is just coming out of the fellowship, he is very unique and full of potentials". I was hesitant because this job involved getting neurosurgeons, ortho. neurology. anesthesia psych all work together. I called Joel DeLisa and he said he is probably the best resident he ever trained. Then I called Joel Press and he said he is best fellow he ever trained.I said wow, here a past and present president of our academy and leaders of two prestigious programs in our field giving such a great endorsement. So, I invited him for the interview. First person to interview him was our spine surgeon. He came out of the interview and told me " don't let this guy get away".We hired him outbidding four other university programs.

When he joined us in July, we had the floor plans and an operational plan for the spine ctr ."Mr. 110%" wanted this to be the best spine center in the country. He decided to take a team to visit different spine ctrs in the country. He adopted good aspect from these, talked to numerous people and completely redid the floor plan .in the process, he made everyone happy; even the surgoens didn't have any complaints. I watched him conduct the spine meetings, a good listner,calm confident at the same time firm. After the meeting he often asks "how did I do;did I step on any toes, how could I do better ".I did not have any suggestions other than patting on his shoulders and say "a great job "I could not believe that a 33 yr old rookie can shine like this with all the politics and egoisms prevalent in the universities.

As teacher he made a remarkable impact. He made what happened to be the final version of his EMG guide. He started two new conferences and an EMG practicum for PGY 2 &3 .He was made the course director for musculoskeletal teaching for the medical students. In no time he became a beloved teacher, a role model and a friend for the residents and medical students.As a clinician ,he made an impression too. Our spine surgeons decided that unless it is an outright surgical case ,all pts should be seen by Jim first.

So, in the last 6 months I witnessed achievements by an young man which I have not seen in my 35 yrs in the university systems. I watched the beginnings of a professional life full of promises ,promises to be an outstanding leader, an excellent teacher and skillful clinician. Unfortunately God had a different plan.

Jim, we already owe a lot for your 6 months at KU. We know how proud you were about the spine ctr. We will have a fitting memorial at the spine ctr such a way that any one walking through its doors, patients, staff ,students all will know who Dr. Jim McLean was ."

Posted by George Vargese M.D.
Prof. and Chairman Dept of Rehab .Med.
Kansas University School of Medicine , Kansas City, KS

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