“I decided to become a doctor after I had already begun a career as a medical technologist.”
“DETERMINED, FORWARD-LOOKING HEALER”
The facts of Dana Latour's journey toward becoming a Local Legend of Medicine are succinctly captured in Rep. Marsha Blackburn's (R-TN-7) letter of nomination: "Dr. Latour earned her medical degree with honors from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences..." So, too, is the well-deserved praise by Rep. Blackburn for Latour as a "woman of great accomplishment who has made a positive, enduring contribution to the health care of her community and our country."
What's missing is the real-life, behind-the-scenes drama, which Latour recounted recently. "I was a divorced mom with two small kids when I went to medical school. I had already started a career as a medical technologist but decided to become a doctor because I would be able to take better care of my family.
"In my second year, I was diagnosed with a bronchial carcinoid tumor. So they opened my chest, got the tumor and removed half of one lung. Although this was a major operation, I wanted to graduate with my class, so I convalesced for two weeks and with the help of my wonderful mentor, Dr. Marion Dugdale, I arranged to take an elective course to complete my requirements."
She did, graduated on schedule and for her amazing courage and determination, was voted by her classmates the Verstanding Award, which recognizes those who overcome hardships in pursuit of their degrees.
Certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners in 1977 and the American Academy of Dermatology in 1981, she interned at Baptist Memorial Hospital, in Memphis (1977-78), and completed a three-year residency in Dermatology at the UT Center for the Health Sciences in 1981, before opening her own practice.
In 1982, she accepted an appointment to the Vanderbilt University medical faculty, in Nashville, and opened Franklin Dermatology Group, which has expanded over the years to include five doctors offering comprehensive dermatological services.
"Being a woman has been a plus for me because the majority of women prefer female doctors-as do the men! I love being a doctor, especially the contact with people. I have been practicing so long that now I am treating generations of the same families, and they are my friends," said Latour.
"We treat all ages and conditions, from teenagers with acne to patients with skin cancer, which is more prevalent now than ever. We even see melanomas in college kids, so we do a lot of education and skin cancer prevention."
As a small business operator, Latour is concerned about the mushrooming of the costly technology of medicine (and the "need for better judgment in using it") and rising health insurance rates, "which affect everyone." Despite this, she believes medicine is an excellent career choice for young women.
Monthly, Latour volunteers at the Siloam Medical Clinic, which treats the area's uninsured, medically underserved population, including immigrant workers.
A member of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery and other professional groups, Latour also is a noted researcher whose work has appeared in several professional journals.
Earns BS in Medical Technology from the University of Georgia
Earns MS in Vertebrate Zoology from Memphis State University
Earns M.D. from UT Center for the Health Sciences and wins Verstanding Award
Founds Franklin Dermatology Group and begins private practice as first woman dermatologist in Middle Tennessee
University of Tennessee, Center for the Health Sciences