Thomas Horton, MD
Thank you for viewing our website and learning more about our program. Please allow me to introduce myself and spend some time describing the formative experiences motivating me to want to build a unique residency program comprised of faculty with "real world" experience and residents seeking to serve where they are most needed.
My path began many years ago when I graduated from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS and accepted a PGY-1 position in the original Montgomery Family Practice Residency Program at Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, AL. Because I was anxious to resolve a National Health Service Corp (NHSC) obligation requiring two years of practice in an underserved area in return for receiving funding for part of my medical education, I left residency at the end of my PGY-1 year.
I completed my NHSC obligation via the 'private practice option' (meaning I was self-employed and had no funding) by practicing in unserved areas in Mississippi. In the process, I developed a lifelong affinity for the rural communities so desperately needing healthcare and a deep admiration for the physicians willing to serve there. I also incurred a lot of debt and learned first-hand of the difficulty of running a private practice in those areas. The economic, bureaucratic, psychologic, and physical challenges are very real and demanding. Still, the reward was tremendous.
After satisfying my NHSC obligation and continuing in general practice and ER work for another three years, I felt compelled to complete my family medicine training. I returned to residency as a PGY-2 and completed my residency at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, but I continued to maintain a connection to rural and underserved areas by engaging in extensive "moonlighting" in eastern Kentucky during residency. Rural moonlighting proved to be an extremely valuable educational experience.
In my career, I have experienced practice in multiple environments including the bureaucracy of the NHSC, being a solo general practitioner in small-town Mississippi, working full-time ER in small town Mississippi, working as an employed physician in a private three member group in very rural Mississippi (only one stop sign in town and few paved roads and few paved roads), working for the University of Kentucky in Lexington (HMO model serving UK employees), helping to create an LSU-affiliated family medicine residency in Alexandria, LA as an assistant program director, serving as faculty in the family medicine program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, and serving as the outpatient clinic director at Oakwood NewVista in Somerset, KY (an organization providing care for individuals with developmental disabilities).
However, most of my career has been spent as a solo family practitioner in Fort Payne, AL. While in practice in Fort Payne, I was privileged to be involved with developing the first ACO in Alabama and to have a small supporting role in the early activities of the Rural Health Scholars Program in Tuscaloosa, AL. The opportunity to be the program director for our family medicine residency at Jackson Hospital and Clinic is the culmination of a lifelong dream to build something special.
A long and varied experience informs my perspective on what I wish to accomplish in our residency training program. I aspire to have our program structured in such a way that graduates receive the necessary preparation to provide highest possible level of quality full-spectrum medical care to the communities they serve. Equally important, our program aspires to give graduates the tools they and their families will need to thrive professionally, financially, and personally throughout their career.
Our program intends to graduate fully capable physicians who can manage the vast majority of medical problems encountered in their patients. We have no interest in training "traffic directors" who simply refer every problem to someone else. Team approaches have some advantages, but someone must be captain of the team and retain autonomy and authority.
Similarly, the best physicians should not be focused on checking off bullet points in the electronic medical record for no reason. Complete and accurate information is paramount, but the goal should be to enhance patient care, not to provide statistical analysis for insurers to enhance their bottom line. We hope to help residents understand what is good for patient care and what is necessary to be reimbursed and how the two coexist.
Our program seeks the type of individual who has a heart for patient care and genuinely wants to become part of the fabric of their community. If you think you have what is takes to become such a physician, please consider applying to our residency.