The Arnold J. Rudolph Memorial Grand Rounds was established in 1996 by the Section of Neonatology, in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, in memory of its late Section Chief, Dr. Jack Rudolph, who died in 1995. Dr. Rudolph was recognized internationally as an expert in neonatology, a branch of pediatrics concerned with the diagnosis and management of conditions affecting children in the first few months of life.
Dr. Rudolph's lifelong interest in neonatology has been chronicled in the Atlas of the Newborn series (1997, BC Decker, Inc.), a five-volume collection of virtually every disease, disorder, and condition affecting the newborn. Blackwell Science describes the series as "a life's work of the most meticulous photographic archivist in neonatology providing the most comprehensive collection of newborn diseases ever."
Dr. Leonard E. Weisman, former head of the Baylor Section of Neonatology (1995–2005) and an editor of the series said, "The book is a great collection and will provide a wonderful reference tool for all physicians who take care of babies and students who are studying to do so. It should become a standard reference before too long."
Such a legacy seems fitting for this beloved medical educator. His former students direct newborn nurseries and academic units throughout the world. Dr. James Adams, professor of Department of Pediatrics and director of nurseries at Texas Children's Hospital, was among Dr. Rudolph's first Baylor students. Both Dr. Adams and Dr. Charleta Guillory, another former fellow under Dr. Rudolph, were on the team that took care of the world's first set of octuplets at Texas Children's.
"Dr. Rudolph was a very special person," Dr. Guillory said. "He was a physician whose patients always came first. He trained us (his fellows) well, not only in the clinical setting but also for life. For Dr. Rudolph, 'his babies' always came first. Always." And that value, a complete commitment to their tiny patients, is demonstrated daily in the lives of Dr. Rudolph's former fellows and medical staff at Baylor. Dr. Guillory, a recipient of one of Houston's Top 10 Women of Distinction Awards for 1997, is herself a prime example of how the Rudolph-trained fellows' commitment permeates their lives. Nominated as an outstanding woman who has contributed significantly to the lives of all Houstonians, Charleta Guillory is also the recipient of other awards, including the 1996 Mayor's Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.
Another former fellow of Dr. Rudolph is Dr. Joseph A. Garcia-Prats, professor of pediatrics and ethics, and director of nurseries at the Harris County Hospital District's Ben Taub General Hospital. He and his family were spotlighted in the December 1997 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. The Garcia-Pratses are raising their 10 sons in a very closely knit family-oriented home. Dr. Garcia-Prats recalls fondly, "Dr. Rudolph's emphasis on taking care of my own family was very much appreciated as I started learning this busy subspecialty. I cannot tell you the number of times he reminded me of that sustaining focus. He was a wonderful mentor and teacher and I can only hope that I am able to give back some of what Dr. Rudolph gave me." That "return" seems evident—in 1996, Dr. Garcia-Prats was awarded BCM's Pediatric Golden Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Along with Dr. Adams, one of the first fellows to work under Dr. Rudolph was Dr. Michael E. Speer, professor of pediatrics and director of Nurseries at The Methodist Hospital and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital. Dr. Speer has distinguished himself within the medical community by tireless dedication to the entire patient. "Dr. Rudolph always told us 'be as good as you can be.' He also taught us to think of the patient first; then, to think of medicine as a whole; and then medicine within the context of a community." Dr. Speer is the past president of the Houston Academy of Medicine, current president of the Harris County Medical Society, and he serves on many boards. His contributions to neonatology were recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which appointed Dr. Speer to its distinguished Committee on Fetus and Newborn.
"Dr. Rudolph is dancing up there; that's probably why Houston's getting all of this rain," joked Dr. Gerardo Cabrera-Meza, yet another former fellow of Dr. Rudolph's and recipient of the Dr. Rodolfo Robles Award (the highest award given to health professionals by the government of Guatemala for service to Guatemala), the Rotary Club's Humanitarian Award, and the director of international neonatology at Texas Children's Hospital. "I know he would be proud of the Baylor Section of Neonatology. He taught his students so much."
Indeed, he did.