An Interview with “Dr. Rick”

Dr. Richard D. deShazo, known by everyone as “Dr. Rick,” retired after 20 years of service to UMMC on June 8, 2018. Dr. Rick came to UMMC to become the third Chair of the Department of Medicine in 1997 from the University of South Alabama. He worked diligently to grow and helped make the department what it is today. In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Rick started Southern Remedy, the live doctor call-in radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. This has now grown from a weekly show to a daily show with 4 other UMMC hosts.  Dr. deShazo stepped down from his chair position in 2010 to focus on his passion, improving health literacy.  He worked with MPB to develop a TV health documentary series of which over 40 have been aired on MPB TV.  Dr. Rick also developed the Community Health Advocate Program (CHA) at UMMC with other colleagues who were passionate about improving the lives of fellow Mississippians.  The CHA program is now a mandatory class for all freshman medical, nursing, OT, and PT students at UMMC. Most recently, Dr. deShazo has written a book, Racial Divide in American Medicine: Black Physicians and the Struggle for Justice in Healthcare, which will be released by University Press of Mississippi in August of this year.

What are favorite things about your time at UMMC?

When I became department chair here in 1997, each division had 2 faculty members, except for general medicine.  Within a period of 5 years, we had recruited 70 new faculty members (this helped me learn where all the good restaurants were in the area) I also was able to meet a lot of faculty from other departments who helped in the recruiting.

What about your time at UMMC made you sad?

My greatest area of sadness is that the financial reorganization of the practice plan left the chairs with very little money to reward our faculty for excellent performance. That was very effective before it went away.  I was also sad to lose my friend, Bill Little, who I had known for many years before he came here.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

The opportunity to put Southern Remedy TV and radio together and to put together the CHA program that is now part of the freshman medical, nursing, OT and PT curriculum.

What is your first memory of UMMC?

Dr. Conerly with whom I shared many connections. We were both former Tulane Medical School people. He was a medical student and resident there and I was a faculty member in the same department much later.  We were also both Methodists. I ended up joining the same church that he was a member of without knowing it and got to see him most Sundays. He was an inspiration and a strong supporter of the department.

What do you plan to do with your time now that you are retiring?

I plan to teach medical students at UAB and develop radio and TV health programming for public broadcasting in Alabama. I have accepted the Associate Editor position of the American Journal of Medicine, so I will be doing a lot of writing and journal work, mostly I will be spending time with our 6 grandkids, who all call me “big dad” even though I am the smallest grandparent.


  1. I especially appreciate all the advice Dr. DeShazo has given me on how to run the department. Learning from the master himself is very helpful.


  2. It is a treasure and honor to see what wonderful things our dad / big dad has done and his many people he has helped – and continues to help even in “retirement “. Thank you to all who have supported Dr. Rick !
    Very proud daughter


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