Remembering a longtime Austin physician, educator

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Remembering a longtime Austin physician, educator

Family medicine pioneer Ruth M. Bain, M.D., of Austin died June 23, 2011, at age 92. Bain was highly influential in organized medicine; she served as president of the Travis County Medical Society in 1962, and as president of the Texas Medical Association in 1982—the second female to hold the post. She also served as a TMA delegate to the American Medical Association House of Delegates and served on the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners from 1979-1982.

During four decades of private practice in Austin, Bain delivered over 1,000 babies and cared for many three-or-more generation families. Her career also led her to academia where she served as co-director of the Austin Family Practice Education Program administered by the Central Texas Medical Foundation. Glen Johnson, M.D., an influential family medicine leader and past TAFP president and AAFP vice president, worked with her at the program. He remembers her as a “no-nonsense” family physician. She influenced “not only the residents that we trained but vicariously influenced my own career as a family doctor,” he says. “Ruth deserves the highest accolade available for her years as a family physician role model par excellence.”

Mathis Blackstock, M.D., of Austin, traded call with Bain. “I say you could always tell what a doctor is like if you know his patients. Ruth’s were mostly middle-aged women, very businesslike, who were very clear with me about their expectations. That was very much like Ruth.”

Bain received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Women’s University) in 1939, and a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1942. She served on the staff of the University of Texas Health Center for three years before entering private practice.

In 1987, she retired from private practice and served as medical director and then vice president of medical affairs for Texas Health Plan (later PCA Health Plans of Texas) until she retired in 1990.

Bain was the first recipient of the Physician of the Year Gold-Headed Cane Award from the Travis County Medical Society in 1989, she was inducted into the Central Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990, she was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus from both Texas Women’s University and UTMB in Galveston in 1993, and she received the TMA Distinguished Service Award in 1994.

Bain is survived by her sister, Louise Sinderson; sister-in-law, Jane Bain; and many nieces and nephews.