Dr. Jamie Martin: MDCC Alum Heads up Columbus Baptist Memorial as New Chief Medical Officer
Like many college freshmen, Dr. Jamie Martin had no idea what career or major he should take on. But he did know he should be in college working to figure that out. The Riverside High School grad came to Moorhead and enrolled in classes at MDCC to get on the path to something, he just didn’t know what. But while there, his career path began to form. That path has recently landed the good doctor the job of Chief Medical Officer of the Columbus, Mississippi based Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle. But the former baseball player was intrigued by the world of medicine, first as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
“I was standing outside of one of the buildings and Max Watson walked up in his little EMT outfit. He said he enjoyed it and was able to go to school and work on an ambulance,” Dr. Martin said. “I looked into the EMT program and it was like two nights a week on campus, so I signed up.”
Dr. Martin came to MDCC in 1993 for one year. He was also on scholarship – as a Delta Dancer.
“Very few people know that because that is not me (laughing),” he said. “I had a friend who graduated from Riverside with me and he was doing it and he said, ‘hey, we need a couple of other guys. Would you be interested in auditioning? And you’d get a little scholarship if you make the team.’ I said, ‘Shoot, I guess so.’”
Dr. Martin “danced” his way through his freshman year and then transferred to Delta State all while working the night shift at Delta Regional Medical Center in Greenville and taking classes during the day at DSU. From there, he looked into the EMS program and decided to step up to paramedic. He and two buddies would drive to Monroe, Louisiana a few days a week for paramedic school.
“I did that career path for about 12 years and then in 2005 I decided I wanted to go to med school,” he said.
The timing wasn’t perfect as he had a wife and kids and was building a brand-new house just south of Greenville. The med school he chose was in the Caribbean, but he first had to secure more pre-requisite medical related classes.
“Starting in 2005, I would drive my motorcycle from Greenville to Mississippi Delta, take two or three classes and I would drive across Highway 8 and take two classes at Delta State then back to Greenville for two night classes. I did that every day for two years to get all the classes I needed for medical school.”
But the Trojan Doctor and Statesmen never secured an actual degree from either.
“I probably had enough hours for a General Studies degree or something. But my first year at Mississippi Delta and at Delta State, I goofed off like most young folks, so I had to repeat some of those. I had a couple of D’s I had to get off the transcript,” he said. “That was an interesting time. When I went back, I had a 4.0 GPA but I had a 2.5 to start with so I had work to do.”
Dr. Martin credits MHEC campus teacher, Andy Forte who taught a night class and. Carrie Boykin who taught chemistry classes.
“The organic (chemistry) teacher had just left and they had to get Mrs. Boykin to teach it. She said she’d never taught it but had to take it 20 years ago and ‘It will be a learning curve for both of us.’ She was excellent. It was a good class and I felt like the chemistry and organic chemistry classes I took from her were really helpful. Mr. Fort’s A&P class – those two were by far my favorite.”
He also notes that several doctors and nurses mentored him along his path including Dr. Robert Corkern an ER doctor, Dr. Donny Stokes and nurse Angela Parkinson Vardaman.
“They were all three influential in my decision making,” Dr. Martin said.
He had worked with Stokes and Vardaman in the paramedic world and Stokes actually attended the Caribbean medical school prior to Martin. He decided upon the location due to his age and the time it would take to finish his training there. But there were not scholarships available, so he took on private student loans.
“It was a big challenge,” he said. “It’s probably four months quicker. You go through the summer. You spend the first 20 months on the island and then you come back to the US and do your last two years in the US. I did all of my third year and most of my fourth in Orlando. I did a few rotations in Chicago and did my residency in Shreveport.”
Medical school took him from 2007 to 2011 and then he began the doctor portion of his medical career. He first worked at Ochsner Louisiana State University-Shreveport Hospital for three years from 2011 to 2014. Before joining the staff in Columbus. Being smack dab in the middle of Tigers and Bulldogs, the lifelong Rebel fan still can’t bring himself to wear the MSU colors on maroon Fridays at the hospital.
“I’ve been here in Columbus since July of ’14,” he said. “I’m an Ole Miss fan and being surrounded by these State fans is difficult (laughing),” he said. “The CEO asks me where my maroon shirt is and I said, ‘I don’t even own a maroon shirt.’”
First hired as a Hospitalist for a year, he then was promoted to Hospitalist Medical Director for five years and then promoted to his newest position this past May. Dr. Martin is proud to be part of the chain and notes the public knowledge is that patient care and patient safety is top notch there.
“It’s a small town but the hospital is pretty large and serves a large surrounding area,” he said. “We get referrals from West Alabama and all over Mississippi.”
His new role still allows him to see patients as he oversees doctors and works as a liaison between hospital administration and physicians.
“Patient care is still number one on everybody’s radar,” he said. “Administration is going to have ideas and the CMO is the person to get the physicians and staff on board and vice versa. It’s challenging but I enjoy it. We have a good staff with a young physician group.”
Looking back over his medical career from EMT to becoming a doctor, Dr. Martin has had plenty of challenges.
“The ice storm was a challenge. We had to go pick up nurses and staff in the ambulance. I met some of my best friends while as an EMT and paramedic. We had some good times,” he said.
Dr. Martin’s family moved to Columbus as well, so he hasn’t made the trek home to the Delta and to MDCC lately.
“I’d like to get back over there and see things. I enjoyed my time and very appreciative of my time on campus.”
These days the good doctor enjoys hunting and fishing and woodworking. His wife, Teri, offers him challenges with furniture needs that he crafts at home. His oldest daughter, Hayley, attends Mississippi University for Women in pre-med and his youngest daughter, Carley, is a softball player and will be a senior at Heritage Academy.
A fruitful medical career that all began with an ambling educational path at MDCC – Dr. Jamie Martin – a proud Trojan.