Below is the Mission Statement authored by John Tennison, M.D. during his campaign and subsequent election as chief resident in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  It is presented here with the conviction that residents must remain ever vigilant of these timeless principles, else insidious processes can take hold that can erode residents' rights and quality of life.

Mission Statement

from John Tennison, MD, Candidate for Chief Resident for residency year of 2002-2003

 (issued to psychiatry residents and faculty at University of Texas Health Science Center on December 4, 2001)


Outspoken Resident Advocacy

Psychiatry is well represented with empathic listeners.  However, sometimes an assertive voice is more persuasive and results in greater fairness for residents.  As residents, we deserve to be regarded as more than simply a labor pool to be exploited.  I promise to remain a vocal advocate of residents and to stand strong when decisions that affect your schedules and lives are at stake. 



If elected, my leadership style will be one of collegiality, not authoritarianism.  I will lead by mutual respect of all the individuals whose lives I affect.  I will strive to include you in the process of all decisions that affect your lives.

            I will keep you fully informed of why decisions have been made, as not explaining or not including you in decisions that affect your life is bad for morale, and leads to trouble recruiting future residents.  If I am ever required to make a decision without resident input, fairness will be the standard for that decision.


High-Yield Learning Experiences

            Teaching is not merely the presentation of data, nor is it the pseudo-Socratic method, whereby questions are asked as means of diverting attention away from an instructor who is unprepared.  Instead, the best teachers are ones who transform the ways we think.  The best teachers provide a higher yield experience than would be available from simply reading a textbook.  The best teachers help us to think outside the box at times when we had not even realized we were in a box.

As chief resident, I will do all I can to monitor the teaching of residents, and to replace low-yield activities (such as sitting around reading multiple choice questions from a study-guide) with high-yield learning activities.

Above all, I will not confuse “service” with “education.”  The clinical workload we are required to carry as residents should not be labeled “education,” unless we are TRULY learning to be better clinicians as a result of the work we are performing.  For service to be truly educational, we must have protected time to reflect on, think about, and discuss the patients we have seen.


Building Career Foundations

In order to have the most career options available upon graduating our residency, we all need to start reaching out and networking from the first day we begin our residency.  I have seen more than one PGY-4 feel substantial anxiety upon realization that their job offers were less than desirable.  In order to help build career momentum, I proposed that we have personalized business cards available from our internship year onward.  In this way, we will be able to begin networking with potential employers and potential moonlighting sites.   Moreover, we will be able to make a much more professional impression on medical students who are potential recruits for our residency program, as well as patients who frequently ask for business cards.

As a result of my inquiries into this matter, I have determined that official UTHSCSA business cards are available NOW!  These are the ones with the university seal, not a generic, unprofessional-looking card.  Simply call the UTHSCSA print shop at 210-567-2315 for details.  At this time, we will have to pay for our cards.  However, I am hopeful that the psychiatry department will make a future commitment to contribute to the printing costs.


Representation at the National Level

            As a result of serving as a fellow of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, I am in close contact with some of the nation’s most influential psychiatric leaders.  Consequently, I am able to represent our residency and further enhance our residency’s reputation at the national level.  If I am elected as your chief resident, the specialized administrative schedule of that position will allow time for the strengthening of these ties, thereby bolstering the reputation of our residency even further.


Opportunity for Resident Publishing

            I have established the Internet domain of  My goal is for this site to be an online psychiatric journal available for resident publishing.  I would like to give priority to residents in our program.  I am accepting papers for publication at this time.  Please speak with me for further details.


Development of Psychiatric Infrastructure for San Antonio and Texas

I would like nothing less than for San Antonio to become the most psychologically-minded city in Texas.  In keeping with this goal, I have established,, and approximately one year ago.  My plan is for San Antonio to be the hub for the development of these Internet domains, thus expanding the presence of San Antonio on the world map of psychiatry.  The successful building of San Antonio’s reputation as a center of psychiatric excellence will improve career opportunities for all residents who graduate from our program.         


Ethical Awareness

Prescription tracking systems have demonstrated that a 50-100% increase in prescribing behavior occurs merely as a result of social gatherings sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.  Thus, in order to better serve our patients, and protect the reputation of psychiatry in general, we must better teach ourselves to utilize pharmaceutical company representatives for knowledge, while minimizing their unscientific influences on our prescribing practices.


Availability to You Now and in the Future

I am not a transient.  I am a 6th generation Texan who is invested in our residency, our department, UTHSCSA, San Antonio, and the state of Texas.  My home base now and in the future will be in San Antonio.  It is no coincidence that I built my house less than 400 feet away from the UTHSCSA campus.  My house is visible from the 7th floor Psychiatry Department.  Moreover, there is no place in San Antonio that I would rather live.  The proximity and visibility of my house in relation to the psychiatry department demonstrate both metaphorically and literally my proximity and availability to you if I am elected as your chief resident.


Closing Comment

I hope I earn your vote, but more importantly I hope your vote is for the person who can and will do the most for the continued quality, recruitment, and reputation of this residency now and in the future.


                                                                                                                            Thank you for your attention,

                                                                                                                                        John T. Tennison, MD

                                                                                                                                        Candidate for Chief Resident

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