Physician of the Year Finalist: Thomas Kiser

Physician of the Year Finalist: Thomas Kiser
Thomas Kiser of Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute and UAMS

Thomas Kiser has more than 24 years of professional experience caring for individuals with spinal cord injuries and disorders, conducting research, publishing scholarly articles and educating health care professionals.

But if not for one individual, Kiser might not have treated the number of patients he has seen during his career.

Kiser’s sister sustained a spinal cord injury when she was 2, and seeing her experiences inspired Kiser to pursue his career path. Managing and dealing with issues related to her situation sparked his interest in learning more and improving interventions to help such individuals and their caregivers.

A Navy veteran, Kiser manages patient care at Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute and UAMS, leading rehabilitation care teams, teaching medical students and residents, participating in research, making professional presentations at conferences and serving on hospital committees to improve service and care.

It is the opportunity to advance the care and quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injuries and disorders that Kiser finds the most rewarding He is regularly amazed at the perseverance he sees in his patients and their families. They face daily obstacles average people couldn’t imagine, yet they have the inner drive to lead full lives.

In addition to being a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at UAMS, Kiser is medical director of the Arkansas State Spinal Cord Commission; chair of the Clinical Competency Committee and serves on the program planning committee for the American Spinal Injury Association.

Kiser has traveled outside the U.S. to learn more about his field and belongs to a number of professional organizations, including the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Arkansas Medical Society, the Christian Medical and Dental Society, the American Spinal Injury Association, the Executive Committee at Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute, the BHRI Spinal Cord Service Excellence Team, is Chair of the Clinical Competency Department of Physical Medicine and Research at UAMS, is chief of staff of the Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute and a member of the Program Planning Committee for American Spinal Injury Association.

Thomas Kiser has been instrumental in advancing spinal cord injury rehabilitation through telecommunication, helping to advance a program in which therapists working with patients at home can receive help remotely from rehab therapists at Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute.