“For me, medicine was the perfect combination of science and service. Early on, I knew I would be in the sciences but it wasn't until I was in college that I decided on a life of helping people as a doctor.”
“CARING PEDIATRICIAN COMMITTED TO COMMUNITY AND FAMILY”
"As a pediatrician, I have the privilege of watching "my" children grow into adults," says Ruth Long. "It's those long-term relationships which I find most rewarding about being a doctor."
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7) nominated Long to be a Local Legend of Medicine, calling her "a woman of great accomplishments who has made a positive, enduring contribution to the health care of her community and our country."
Long joined Old Harding Pediatric Associates in 1987 and has been a consulting physician to the group practice since 1995, advising especially on Down syndrome children. "As the mother of a 14-year old son with Down syndrome, I can bring special insight to families as both a parent and a physician. It's an honor to be able to share and help where I can," she says.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that causes delays in physical and intellectual development. Individuals with Down syndrome have 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status. The estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births and each year approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with it. There are approximately 250,000 families in the country who are affected.
According to the National Association for Down Syndrome, many children with Down syndrome have health complications beyond the usual childhood illnesses. For example, approximately 40 percent have congenital heart defects which must be identified, monitored and, if required, surgically repaired in infancy. Children with Down syndrome have a higher incidence of infection, respiratory, vision and hearing problems as well as thyroid and other medical conditions. However, with appropriate medical care most children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy, productive lives. The average life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 55 years, with many living into their sixties and seventies.
Reflecting, Long says, "It is my personal experience that has made my life as a doctor more meaningful. Life is not perfect. But I encourage young women to consider medicine because they can bring a great deal to the profession. Before making the commitment, it is very important to consider the time required, especially by the specialty they choose, such as pediatrics."
Long received a Bachelor's degree in chemistry from Auburn University and a Medical degree from Vanderbilt University where she also completed both her pediatric internship and residency. Certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, she is a member of the Tennessee Medical Association, Nashville Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics and Davidson County Pediatric Association.
She has been an instructor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical School where she is on the Child Development Center Board. She also is on the board of Miriam's Promise, an adoption agency affiliated with the Methodist church.
Awarded B.S. in Chemistry, summa cum laude, from Auburn University, winning Comer Award for Most Outstanding in the Physical Sciences
Earns MD from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Joins Old Harding Pediatric Associates, Nashville