Chris Moreland's parents discovered their son was deaf at age two, by which time he had acquired very few spoken words. After multiple visits to healthcare professionals, a physician finally identified his deafness. The family then embarked on a bimodal approach to his education, using both signed and spoken English. He learned ASL in college. As a result, he communicates through a variety of channels: ASL with interpreters Agan and Keri Richardson, speech reading, and spoken English. When examining patients, he uses an electronic stethoscope that interfaces with his cochlear implant.
Medicine was not Dr. Moreland's first academic choice. "I went into college thinking I wanted to do computer science," he says, speaking of his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas in Austin. When he realized computers were not for him, he switched his major to theater arts, continuing an interest he had had in high school. After that, research seemed appealing, and he became a research assistant in a lab in the Department of Anthropology. Finally, after shadowing a number of physicians, his interest in medical science was stimulated.
"Medicine," he says, "became a nice culmination of everything I was interested in doing." From computer science, he learned to appreciate an understanding of algorithms; from theater arts came the ability to understand where people are coming from; and from his link with research in linguistics and anthropology came the contribution of problem solving and methodology.
ABOVE: Hearing impaired physician Christopher Moreland, MD, shakes hands with patient Juan Treveño as ASL Interpreter Keri Richardson (far right) interprets any discussion outside of visual range for Dr. Moreland during morning rounds at University Hospital in San Antonio. INSET: Hearing-impaired physician Christopher Moreland, MD (center) takes notes as ASL Interpreter