Dr. Ed Hill Retires After Practicing 54 Years
When a family physician retires after 54 years, you might expect them to have a broad perspective on the profession and its future. That’s true for Dr. J. Edward Hill of Tupelo, who is retiring at the end of the year from North Mississippi Medical Center’s Family Medicine Residency Program (NMMC FMRP) in Tupelo.
“As a physician, you will end every day knowing you have significantly had a positive influence on somebody’s life,” he says. “That’s for any physician, but in particular family medicine, where you become so intimately involved with peoples’ families and you know them so well.”
Dr. Hill came to Tupelo as founding director of the NMMC FMRP, which has grown from one resident that first year to 24 at present. He served as program director from 1995-2001 and from 2008-2013, and has remained on the faculty since 2013.
“Dr. Hill’s many significant contributions to the care of patients and to the education of family physicians will be remembered, cherished and appreciated for many decades to come,” said Shane Spees, North Mississippi Health Services President and CEO. “Dr. Hill’s legacy will live on through the residency program and through the many family practitioners he helped train over the past 22 years.”
Dr. Hill has surmounted challenges his entire career. He has treated wounded soldiers at a military hospital, has delivered babies in the rural Mississippi Delta, and has taught new doctors how to practice medicine. What’s the most important change he’s seen in family medicine?
“I think being recognized as a specialty is the most important thing that’s happened, and the fact that our role has become the backbone of the healthcare system,” he said. “We’ve contributed more toward high quality and lower cost than any other part of medicine.”
A board-certified family physician, Hill received his undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi in Oxford and medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. He served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy and as a general medical officer in a naval destroyer group. He began his medical career in Hollandale, a small town in the Mississippi Delta, where he practiced for 27 years with partner Dr. John Estess.
“It was as close to Third World medicine as you could find in the U.S. in 1968,” Dr. Hill said of delivering babies and doing minor surgeries in-clinic in the absence of a nearby hospital for many of those years. “We introduced the principles of prenatal care in the Delta, which was unheard of, and we knew that had to change. I’m convinced we had a significant impact on infant mortality rates.”
After years in the Delta, Dr. Hill answered the call to teach new physicians, accepting the position of director for the family medicine residency program in Tupelo. He has high praise for those he has worked with there. “At North Mississippi Medical Center and the Family Medicine Residency Center, I had what I believe to be the best team I have ever worked with, and it makes all the difference in the world,” Hill said. “It’s been an exciting journey.”
With a background in national and international leadership in medicine, it’s not surprising that he embraces public health and policy as the next challenge in medicine. During his career, Dr. Hill served as president of the American Medical Association and chairman of the World Medical Association.
“I think the next big challenge is for family physicians to become intimately involved in the policy-determining part of medicine,” he said. “To drive home family medicine’s value principles as the secret to significantly improving our health care system, both in quality and reducing cost.”
He and his wife Jean have been married for 54 years. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. Following his retirement, Hill plans to move to Oxford to be close to family. He said he plans to write his memoirs for his children and grandchildren to read.