By Stanley C. Thompson, MD, MHA, FACEP, Chief Clinical Officer, LifePoint Group, Chief Diversity Officer
Today, February 1, is the first day of Black History Month 2022. Officially recognized by every U.S. president since 1976, this is a time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans and their role in U.S. history.
Dr. Stan Thompson’s Story
When I completed my residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, I returned home to Memphis, Tennessee, to begin practicing and found a job in the emergency department (ED) at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis. About a year later, TeamHealth acquired the contract, and I stayed on to work with the company. Inspired by the leadership of Dr. Lynn Massingale and Dr. Randall Dabbs, I began to pursue a career in emergency medicine leadership. I became the assistant medical director at the facility. Four years later, TeamHealth acquired a second contract at another Baptist facility in Southaven, Mississippi. It was, at that time, a much smaller hospital with one-third of the ED beds.
I put my name in the hat as the medical director for that ED. Many thought that was a move in the wrong direction. They thought I should stay at Memphis, continue to cut my teeth there and perhaps eventually become the medical director at the larger institution. However, unbeknownst to most, my family roots are in Southaven. I can trace my family history back to slavery in the city. After slavery ended, my maternal great-great-grandfather acquired land in Southaven and changed his last name to Baptist. The Baptist side of my family is large, and many of the seven generations of Baptists still live in the area. The move felt more like destiny, like a calling. I was selected, and I accepted the job.
Inspiring Future Generations
When I walked down the hospital halls, I repeatedly passed by the pictures of the medical staff presidents. Not surprisingly, no one looked like me. I thought about how many of my younger cousins, now and in the future (or any little Black boys and girls for that matter), would pass those pictures in the hallway. I thought of what it might mean for them to look up and see someone who was related to or looked like them, so I set out to become chief of staff. It took six years, going from interim vice president to secretary and back to vice president, but I did become chief of staff and got my picture on the wall.
A few years later, after my term as chief of staff had passed, I was working a shift in the ED and running to grab a quick bite from the doctors’ lounge. I passed the chief of staff photos as I had done a thousand times before. On this particular day, a Black mom with her son was standing in front of the pictures. He was no more than seven or eight years old. She was pointing to my picture and talking to her son. I slowed down to eavesdrop on the conversation. As she was pointing, she said, “See, you can do anything you set your mind to.” At that moment, I knew the six years of work and medical staff issues and extra meetings were worth it.
Celebrating Black History Month at TeamHealth
As we celebrate Black History Month, I am grateful for all those before me who made it possible for me to be chief of staff at Baptist Hospital and even made it possible for me to work there as a physician. I am grateful to serve as a chief clinical officer for TeamHealth and as its executive leader for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion while also holding membership in the newly formed Black Cultural Resource Group, the details of which will be announced in the coming months.
Black Americans have contributed much to the history of America. At TeamHealth, we celebrate these contributions and acknowledge the previous and current struggles of Black Americans in our country. This is another way we actively and sincerely promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
We will continue the celebration of Black history throughout the month. Subscribe to our blog and follow our social media accounts to learn more and celebrate with us.