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In Focus with Dr. Jeanne Jemison

Jeanne 1-250

The basics: Born and raised in Memphis, she's a graduate of Hutchison School. She and her husband, Frank Jemison, Jr., have three children: Elizabeth, Frank and Sarah. This is her second year on the Methodist Healthcare Foundation board.

Education: She studied biology, psychology and special education at Vanderbilt, "…a theme that's continued," she says. She earned her medical degree from the University of Tennessee at Memphis, did her residency in pediatrics at Le Bonheur and has been practicing since 1985. She served on the UT faculty for about 10 years and spent about two years working at the Church Health Center.

Vocation: She now specializes in behavioral pediatrics, for which she completed additional training at UT and at The University of Pennsylvania. "I was always interested in the ‘Oh, by the way' questions. The ones parents didn't come in for, but they really wanted to ask—about anxiety, depression, behavior issues, learning disabilities."

What she is and isn't: "I am not a psychiatrist. My chief source of referrals is school counselors. I understand more about education than most doctors and I have incredible admiration for what teachers do. I'm here to help families succeed."

Why she's good at it: She approaches treating children holistically, as opposed to looking at them as son or daughter, medical patient, student or behavioral problem. "God didn't create us in different categories," she says. "We just separate it to try to study it. It's an artificial division."

Simple truth: Her approach to treating children as whole beings flows from the approach to life she's developed over the years. "The older I get the more I realize that everything is connected to everything."

The segue: That principle is at the core of her passion for Methodist. Her children were all born in Methodist University Hospital, but it was when her husband served on the Methodist Healthcare board that she began to pay more attention. "Anyone who knows Frank knows he's understated. But he would come home from meetings and say that at Methodist, the combination of excellence in management and the depth of commitment to the mission co-existed in a way that he'd never seen or imagined to be possible."

The turning point: When Frank had spinal surgery at Methodist, the quality and level of care, the patient and family centered emphasis, the whole Methodist approach came into focus for her. It was about that time that she met Gary Gunderson and learned more about Methodist's work around the connection between faith and health. "I'm a huge believer in the connection between faith and health. I have been all my life. The commitment to palliative and hospice care and the Center of Excellence in Faith and Health are my areas of interest. The education that goes on in this city as part of the Congregational Health Network is phenomenal. It's really a model for the country."

The takeaway: Her support for and connection to Methodist stem from the fact that her passions are in sync with the system's mission. "You don't get on a board to change its direction. You get on a board that has the same direction as you. Methodist is grounded."