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Dr. Joel Steelman grew up a military brat, on the move every three to four years, to a new home, in a different state. Nevertheless, his family roots remained in Texas, where he finished high school and developed a love for writing, working on the school newspaper and yearbook. He attended Texas A&M University both for his undergraduate and medical degrees.
During his second year of medical school, Dr. Steelman realized he had a passion for caring for children. He joined the U.S. Air Force while in medical school, and spent the next seven years as a general pediatrician, providing healthcare for the youngsters of military personnel. While serving at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Dr. Steelman made the difficult decision to leave the military to pursue training in endocrinology--a highly specialized field with only 1,000 practicing endocrinologists in the U.S. today. His work with diabetic children, as well as encouragement from endocrine mentors, sparked this life-altering decision.
He trained in endocrinology at the University of Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver, where the magnificent setting turned Dr. Steelman into a lifelong outdoor sport enthusiast, with a strong desire to lead a healthy life. On his rare days off, he could be found skiing, mountain biking and trail running. He loves to go back to the Rockies as often as possible, and just a few years ago, he ran the Pike’s Peak ascent half marathon. He continues to run for exercise regularly. During his tenure in Colorado, where he met his future wife, Dr. Steelman trained at the internationally renowned Barbara Davis Diabetes Center, one of the world’s largest and most esteemed diabetes medical facilities for adults and children, specializing in type 1 diabetes research. Along the way, he discovered another strong research interest in the area of bone disorders, and Dr. Steelman began to treat children with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease-- a rare, crippling malady. After completing his training, Dr. Steelman left the West to enter academic medicine at Vanderbilt Children’s hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Over the next seven years he focused on research projects and medical education.
The birth of his daughter, in 2005, and the desire to be closer to family, brought Dr. Steelman back home to Texas, and to Cook Children’s. Today, he provides endocrine care for children living in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area, as well as Denton and West Texas. He expanded his practice, after arriving at Cook Children’s, to include the care of childhood cancer survivors, collaborating with the neuro-oncology program and Life After Cancer programs.
As a self-described ‘techie,’ Dr. Steelman has a keen interest in the wise use of technology to improve medical care. Since 2001, he has helped implement electronic medical recordkeeping in two endocrine practices. He still loves to write, and he is a regular contributor to the Physician Perspective page on the Cook Children’s website.
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