“I knew I wanted to be a physician ever since I was four years old. While every other child was dressing up their dolls, I was performing surgery on mine. I would take on any opportunity to nurture and heal; I had an innate desire to help. Naturally, this led to an interest in science and medicine at an older age.”
William L. Jenkins
“FULFILLING A LIFELONG DREAM TO NURTURE AND HEAL...”
Of the many accolades she has received for her remarkable career as an educator and, now, physician, none more accurately captures Susan Sloan than Rep. William Jenkins' (R-TN-1), when nominating her as a Local Legend of Medicine. "I have found her to be one of Tennessee's greatest success stories... passionate about her work, and to be admired for overcoming many obstacles to become a physician."
Sloan's story is one of impressive, persistent determination. Fired by the dream of medicine, she went off to college-the first in her family to do so-only to have her academic advisor discourage her from thoughts of medical school because the financial burden would be too much for her parents to bear and jeopardize her younger siblings' chances of going to college.
Deterred for the time being, she became a teacher, completing her teaching certificate from Middle Tennessee State University in 1972. She also got married and began to raise a family. From 1979 to 1994, she served as Associate Director of Children First, in Hendersonville, helping to develop and implement childbirth classes in the Middle Tennessee area. Between 1986 and 1994, she also was a professional childbirth educator, based in Montrice, developing and implementing hospital birthing and sibling-at-birth classes.
All this time, her dream of becoming a doctor never wavered; in fact, it intensified. So after the birth of her youngest daughter and while pregnant with her fifth child, in 1994, on the day her youngest child began kindergarten, Sloan started medical school at the University of Minnesota. Although she had planned to move from Tennessee to Minneapolis with the whole family, at the last minute her husband was unable to go, so she took the four youngest children and hoped that within a few months they would all be reunited.
Fate intervened, however, and it was another three years before that happened. But Sloan says the family was able to cope thanks to "the prayers of my family and friends back in Tennessee and the continued support of my husband and children."
Graduating in 1998, she completed a residency in internal medicine at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 2001, and then was appointed assistant professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts and coordinator of resident ambulatory education at Berkshire Medical Center. But the next year, she returned home to Tennessee to join the internal medicine program at East Tennessee State as director.
Sloan has served on numerous committees and advisory boards, including the Alliance for Native American Rights, and was president of the Association of Native American Medical Students from 1996 to 1997. In 1996, she co-founded and served as the first president of the Intertribal Alliance of Medical Students in Minneapolis.
She has also devoted much time to community groups, working for improved medical care for underserved women. For example, she founded Preterm Connection, a non-profit organization serving pregnant women at risk for giving birth prematurely. Since 2000, she has served as medical director of Health, Education, Resource, Outreach and Advocacy (HEROA).
Enrolls in medical school pregnant with her fifth child and 22 years after earning her undergraduate degree!
Earns M.D. in internal medicine and begins three-year residency in medicine at the Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield, MA
Appointed Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, James H. Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University
University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis