Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, my family received its medical care from our local community health center. I always admired the doctors who worked there. I remember once, when I was 10 or 11 years old, I had a sore throat and explained to my mother that I had strep throat and needed to go to the doctor to get a penicillin shot or some blue or pink pills. She suggested I become a doctor and I thought that was an excellent idea! As I prepared to leave for college, I knew becoming a doctor was what I wanted to do.
After getting my B.S. in biology from Tougaloo College, I then went to the University of South Alabama for medical school and did my internship and residency at University of Mississippi Medical Center. While I was in medical school, I did a rotation at the Pine Apple Health Clinic in Alabama. It was run by nuns and the patients were so deeply appreciative of the care they received. It was such a rewarding experience; I knew a career helping those in need was for me.
My personal and professional backgrounds were a perfect fit to continue working with the underserved. I started in a community health center after residency, moved to private practice while my wife completed her training, and then returned to community health to pursue my passion of serving children in need. Remembering the National Health Service Corps from my financial advisor at medical school, I applied and became a participant in the Loan Repayment Program, which allowed me the financial security to continue working in community health.
I work at the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi where, being the only pediatrician at the health center and the father of two children keeps me very busy! One of the biggest challenges is the limits of insurance coverage. Because many of my patients are on Medicaid, they might not always be able to access the specialized care they need.
I love being in a small community where everybody knows one another. Often, when shopping at the local mall or Wal-Mart, a kid will yell out, “That’s my doctor!” when I walk by.
Being an NHSC member means recognizing providers who are taking care of those who don’t have as many opportunities for medical care. The NHSC makes it easier for us to take care of people we are driven to take care of anyway.