Member of the Month:
Arie Marancenbaum, M.D.
Wound care physician comes from medical family, loves teaching
Born and raised in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Arie Marancenbaum, M.D., now practices at the Lake Pointe Wound Care Center east of Dallas in Rowlett, Texas. His father’s work in engineering sparked his interest in science, while his two uncles in the medical field inspired him to become a physician.
He says his career as a physician has exceeded his expectations, but he thinks eventually he will return to the academia world. “After all, the word doctor in Latin is ‘docere,’ which means to teach,” says Dr. Marancenbaum on his plans of becoming a teacher.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
Before moving to the U.S., I trained in general surgery for several years. Due to the political and economical situation in Bolivia, by parents and I decided to move to the U.S. We had family in Dallas and so we decided to settle in the Dallas area. I have gone full circle since I started my undergraduate in Dallas; I went to medical school in Mexico and completed my specialty training in Bolivia, and ended up back in Dallas to continue my career and be with my family.
I have always loved medicine and everything that it entails. I think that’s why family medicine has been the most versatile and best option for me as a specialty. It has opened a lot of doors not only professionally but also personally and spiritually in some instances. Medicine and our involvement with people and their lives make it unique and transform not only the lives of our patients but also our lives within. It gives us an opportunity to help the fellow man and contribute to society.
After finishing my residency at San Jacinto Methodist Hospital in Baytown, Texas, near Houston I decided that faculty would be a good fit for me. I loved doing inpatient, clinic, procedures, OB-GYN with C-section privileges and, above all, teaching. It was great to infuse the knowledge accumulated through the years to the eager minds of residents and medical students. Yet, once again trying to balance family and work led me to consider a wound care career applying my surgical skills and my family medicine training. I really enjoy working at the wound care center since it gives me the unique opportunity to heal people. These are people that have not healed in many months and in some instances for many years. It has been very gratifying to find such a good partner like Dr. Han Pham who has been a great mentor and also a friend. With five rapidly growing children, I wanted to make sure I spend time with my family and also share their experiences with my parents who have been so happy to be part of our lives now that we are so close to them.
Do people get your name wrong all the time? What’s the best (or worst?) mix-up?
It is very easy to get my last name misspelled let alone mispronounced. I have been called Dr. Boom, Dr. Bond, and Dr. Mariachi and Dr. Bomb. Although there have been several occasions which I have been mistaken for a long distant relative to the scissors in the OR from Dr. Metzenbaum! My last name actually means “orange tree.” Marancen means orange and Baum means tree in German and Yiddish.
Why did you choose family medicine, and what’s your favorite aspect of it? Were you inspired by anyone?
Inspiration comes usually from people around you or mentors. In this case, I attribute my scientific curiosity to my dad. He is a chemical engineer and was always showing me different kind of experiments from how to make shapes and boomerangs from battery acid (yes battery acid that he melted) to projects with different perfumes and how to make soap.
I guess my love for taking care of sick children came from my uncle Emilio, who is a pediatrician and would always invite me to see patients with him. I remember going to his office to play doctor since I was 8 years old. I would also spend countless afternoons after school or on the weekends visiting with my uncle Carlos who was a radiologist and would share all his interesting cases. I aspire one day to be as good as they once were. They were charismatic human beings that really cared for their fellow men and didn’t care to be compensated monetarily; a simple smile or thank you was enough.
Describe your practice.
It is so good to have time now and also combine other aspects of medicine like emergency medicine and urgent care. I work for Lake Pointe Wound Care Center in Rowlett, Texas, which is 30 minutes east of Dallas. We have been awarded the “Center of Excellence Award” by the Healogics company. Our healing rates are above 97 percent and provide great services to the nearby communities like Garland, Sachse, Mesquite, Rockwall, and even remote locations like Terrell and Greenville. My typical day starts at 7:30 a.m. and I have wound care encounters averaging 16-18 patients a day finishing up around 5 or 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday. We treat numerous conditions including chronic wounds, diabetic foot ulcers, and venous ulcers with advance modalities like skin substitutes and also compression therapy as well as hyperbaric oxygen therapy and IV antibiotics.
I have become proficient in treating many complicated wounds from burns to complex post-surgical wounds that have failed all other methods of therapy. It is very challenging and very rewarding at the same time. In my “free time,” I work as an ER physician for Palo Pinto General Hospital, a small rural hospital two hours from Dallas, and enjoy helping people out in the Mineral Wells community. It’s also interesting to see different pathologies in different medical settings. I also keep up with my family medicine skills working for an urgent care company, CareNow, in Plano and North Garland. It’s great to be able to be so diverse.
Do you have advice for new family physicians transitioning from residency into practice?
It’s not easy starting but once you get the momentum it will be very rewarding. Make sure you surround yourself with good people and people whom you can trust. Enjoy where you work and the people you work with. You will never be wrong if you are doing the right thing for the patient.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you have had when caring for a patient?
I think the ultimate experience has been caring for a patient that no one else wanted to touch. It was so sad to see a patient with neck cancer that other institutions and physicians had given up on. I took him in my clinic and treated him with dignity and respect; like a person. I applied the concepts that family medicine is all about: compassion, sincerity, and care. Listening to his complaints, he had a lot of drainage and a foul smelling wound. I was very sincere with him and told them that he could die at any moment when I was doing a debridement on his neck due to the vital structures in his neck. I isolated the bacteria growing on his neck with a culture and then treated the infection like any other. The smell and drainage was gone for several months. He came to my office for many months. One day he thanked me for all I had done and told me he was ready to die like a decent human being. He wasn’t ashamed of going into a room at the risk of people looking at him strangely since his wound no longer smelled and there was no more drainage. He died the very next day. His wife came to my office and was so grateful. I will never forget this.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would your job be?
A teacher, for sure. In my transition of becoming a doctor in the U.S., I experienced the joy of teaching first graders, second graders, and kindergarteners at Routh Roach Elementary in Garland. I think this is what I would do if I weren’t a doctor. It was one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done. It is so rewarding, watching the kids grow, learn how to read, and discovering the world around them. They were reading 150 words per minute by the time they finished first grade!
What do you see as the biggest opportunity or challenge for the specialty in the next five years?
We need to remain together and work towards improving payment. Doctors are not valued as they were before and are not being compensated what they should. The only ones making money are the hospitals and insurance companies.
How do you spend your free time?
I enjoy spending time with family and doing martial arts (Aikido Jujitsu and Shotokan Karate) when I have time, but mostly I like going to the pool or playing soccer with my kids.
TAFP’s Member of the Month program highlights Texas family physicians in TAFP News Now and on the TAFP website. We feature a biography and a Q&A with a different TAFP member each month and his or her unique approach to family medicine. If you know an outstanding family physician colleague who you think should be featured as a Member of the Month or if you’d like to tell your own story, nominate yourself or your colleague by contacting TAFP by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (512) 329-8666. View past Members of the Month here.