Eight days late and after thirty-six hours of labor from my hard-working mother, I was born at the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital on a hot April day in 1976.
Forty-two years later, I am an attending physician in that very same department. It’s very unusual for a physician to practice in their hometown, but I am thankful that my journey has brought me back to where I started.
My earliest memory of life in Jackson is from First Presbyterian Playschool. From Miss GG teaching the basics of language with Mr. P. Mooney, to Miss Penny’s music, to an annual visit from the real Santa (George Smith), I know these early experiences helped foster a love of learning from a very young age.
I am a product of the local public schools. I attended Pope Elementary, East Elementary, North Side Junior High, and North Side High School, where I graduated in 1994. Each of these schools was filled with great teachers who played such an important role in my life. In high school, I was on the Academic Decathlon team, and I know that the study skills I acquired in this program had the biggest impact on my success in both college at UT Martin and at medical school.
I started college as a pre-med student. The pre-med curriculum requires classes such as organic chemistry and cell biology, and it is easy to get bogged down in the sciences and lose track of the goal of becoming a physician. At the end of my sophomore year, I was trying to figure out if medicine was still the direction in which I wanted to go. That summer, Jackson-Madison County General Hospital’s education department was starting a new program for pre-med students that allowed them to spend their summer shadowing in many different areas of the hospital system. I enrolled in the program, and by the end of the summer I knew that a career in medicine was in my future.
I went to medical school and did my residency training in Memphis. During those eight years, I met my wife, bought a house, and had our first child. We liked many of the perks of living in a big city, but it never really felt like home. Although my wife grew up in South Mississippi, her grandmother had grown up here in Jackson, so when we started talking about our long-term plan, Jackson was the clear choice.
But could I be a doctor—much less an OB/GYN—in the town I grew up in? How many people would say, “I kept you in the church nursery” or “We went to school together”? Would this be a positive or a negative, or would it even matter?
I found it to be a positive.
Sure, there are people who may not want to see that doctor who they new as a teenager, but there are just as many people who want to see a doctor who understands growing up in West Tennessee and the importance of family, neighbors, and church community. I love being out in the city and running into folks who say, “Hey, Dr. Roy, you delivered this boy!” or “This girl that you delivered is a great little soccer player.”
When we moved back to Jackson, I found comfort in the familiar while realizing so much had changed. I grew up in north Jackson, but now we live in the “’01” on the same historic street my wife’s grandmother lived on. As a child, downtown was somewhere we went only to go to the library or the Christmas parade, but now it’s the home of our favorite restaurant, the LIFT, and our church.
Jackson isn’t the same place it was when I was younger. As a child, a summer day was spent going to the three-bottle-cap movie at the mall Malco, putt-putt or the waterslide on Arlington, or splashing in the wading pool at Highland Park. These places may be gone, but now families can enjoy a trip to the ballpark or one of the many restaurants around town. I have seen Jackson grow and change over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that it is home, and I’m proud to continue welcoming new children into it.
Dr. Ryan A. Roy, MD FACOG, grew up in Jackson and is a OG/GYN at The Woman’s Clinic. He is a member of the medical staff at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and the former chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. When working He and his wife Molly enjoy traveling, attending college football games, and spending time with their two daughters.