Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Justin M. Turner

Dr. Justin M. Turner, alumnus of the internal medicine residency program, talks about what drew him back to his home state for residency training, why he remains here today, and what he loves about UMMC. Dr. Turner currently practices primary care and is CEO of TurnerCare, LLC in Jackson. He serves on the COVID-19 Task Force for the Mississippi State Medical Association and City of Jackson and was named “Best Doctor” in the Jackson Free Press Best of Jackson awards in 2020.  

First tell us about you and your time here at UMMC.

I am a native Mississippian who spent time growing up in Fayette, Port Gibson, and Vicksburg, where I finished high school at Warren Central in 1999.  I went to Jackson State University and finished in 2003 and was later accepted to Meharry Medical College where I completed my medical degree in 2008.  I was able to be accepted at my first choice for residency at the illustrious UMMC for internal medicine. While I was at Meharry, I saw too many statistics with Mississippi being ranked at the bottom.  I felt like me coming back was not an option but it was an obligation to the place that gave me a chance.  I’m married to Elisha Turner and we have two precious daughters Layla age 11 and Leah age 3.

Where are you now and what are you up to?  

I am the CEO of my own practice called TurnerCare since November 2013 in South Jackson.  I feel I am walking in my purpose as we treat the whole person.  The focus is mission over money, purpose over pills, and relationship over revenue.  I can spend as much time as I want which usually includes a lot of education and sometimes a prayer.

What do you miss most about UMMC?

The comradery and being able to have fellowship with my colleagues.  I’m on staff at St D hospital and any time I go there and see one of my residents from the U, it’s a mutual level of excitement to see your fellow brother or sister that you developed lifelong bonds with during training. It has never been more missed than during this challenging time of this pandemic where our mental health has been a burden to most.

Share a memory or more of your time here at UMMC.

My first rotation I was on call in the ICU with Dr. Demondes Haynes, Dr. Chad Van Asselberg, and co-intern Raymond Portis for a 30 hour shift and we were supposed to be at rounds at 6am that morning.  I was nowhere to be found so they came in my all call room and I had overslept and it was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.  It was time for rounds and I had not seen any patients.  They all got a good laugh but it taught me where I was not at a place that was super malignant. They met me where I was which is what I try to do with my patients every day.  Grace and compassion goes a long way.  Also, I remember our program director Dr. Herrin and I talking about the need for more diversity.  When the program offered to travel to my medical school in Nashville to recruit medical students and attempt to have more minorities in the program, that just blew my mind.  In Mississippi we have about 35% of a population that is African American, which is the highest for any state in America, but the medical work force does not reflect it.  So that type of intentional commitment solidified my comfort in the program and sharpened my dedication to serving in Mississippi after training.

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