Dr. Vincent (Vince) Herrin is a Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology and specializes in caring for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Here, Dr. Herrin shares his path to UMMC and what has kept him here for over two decades.
What is your professional background?
I grew up mostly in south Mississippi (Hattiesburg and Sumrall) but moved around a good bit with my dad’s job. I graduated from Mississippi College with degrees in history and biology and started medical school at UMMC in 1990 when there were many less buildings on campus–you could look out the window of the student room on 6W to see which patients were smoking in front of the hospital and could play frisbee in between classes where the nursing school is now. I did Internal Medicine at UMMC with 18 awesome peers, all from UMMC (we were the first class recruited by the peerless Shirley Schlessinger) and did my fellowship in Heme/Onc at UMMC as well. I went on active duty with the Navy when I finished fellowship in 2000 and worked at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda for most of the next five years other than deployment.
Tell us about what you do at UMMC.
I get to be a Hematologist—the only specialty in all of medicine (that I can think of) where we get to diagnose and treat all of our own benign diseases, diagnose and treat all of our own malignant diseases, and harvest and transplant our own organ system. It’s never boring and I love our patients. I’m currently serving as director of the Hematologic Malignancies team.
What advice would you give to someone pursuing medicine today?
To be humble and thankful, admit what you don’t know, love what you do, be patient and forgiving, value loyalty, remember that every single job in the hospital is important to patient care, and keep the patient at the center of patient care.
How has life changed due to COVID-19?
COVID is definitely posing some challenges. Even simple aspects of every day life are different, let alone what we do at the hospitals and clinics. We have personal challenges like kids who have missed graduations or can’t find jobs; loved ones who’ve lost employment and are facing financial hardhips. Too many issues to list. And some have lost family members to this virus. The unknown is eating away at people and too many have let the issues surrounding COVID become political. Sadly, the challenges posed by the pandemic have blended into other societal issues creating a very negative daily news environment. However, the virus is neither republican nor democrat. Pain and suffering are neither conservative nor liberal. I hope and pray that ultimately the “life change” coming from COVID might at some point be a renewed emphasis on faith, compassion, understanding, and our shared humanity. Sounds pie in the sky. I hope it’s not.
What do you like most about UMMC?
UMMC is a friendly place. And it’s comfortable (I’ve been at UMMC 25 of my last 30 years). But most importantly, I like the mission of the place. That’s really why I came back. There is no other place in the entire country that can say “We take care of the poorest and sickest in the poorest state in the nation.” We’re on a mission field every single day. Mississippi is my home and I get to serve her people.
Tell us something about yourself that people may not know.
I’m not particularly interesting but I’ve been blessed to be involved in interesting things. I’m the first in my immediate family to be fortunate enough to graduate from college. I was deployed to Guantanamo to provide care for detainees when it was at its busiest. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in international medical missions in places like Brazil, Romania, Uganda, Kenya, Belize, Ukraine, and Papua New Guinea. I’ve got a fantastic family—a wonderful wife and three fantastic kids—ages 21, 18, and 8.
Very well said, Vince. You were always a wonderful orator!