Sally Bullock, MD, medical director of the hospitalist program at Middle Tennessee Medical Center (MTMC) in Murfreesboro, Tenn., received the hospital’s 2011 Physician of the Year award at its annual Physician Christmas Reception in December. The award is voted on by hospital staff, and this is the first time it was given to a hospitalist.
“I’ve been here on staff for 26 years, mostly in private practice as an internist,” Dr. Bullock says. “Visiting the hospital was always a favorite part of my practice. In fact, I did not use hospitalists to care for my patients.”
However, family demands and time pressures of the practice led her to leave it for the flexibility of multiple part-time medical jobs, including HM shifts. In November of 2007, after repeated requests from Andy Brown, MD, MTMC’s vice president of medical affairs, she accepted the hospitalist leadership position.
“I encouraged Dr. Bullock to take on this role because she genuinely cares about her patients. Sally is an excellent clinician and communicator who also leads by example,” Dr. Brown says. “I knew that physicians would recognize these qualities and want to be part of the program.”
The hospitalist program at MTMC started in 1999 with six physicians but experienced contraction in 2006. Under Dr. Bullock’s leadership, it has grown to 22 physicians, with more expansion expected this year.
“I just jumped on it, and we got busy recruiting,” Dr. Bullock says, adding that the award from her peers at MTMC reflects both her longevity in the medical community and appreciation for “taking the hospitalist program where it needs to be.”
Currently, her position includes hospitalist shifts, both scheduled and fill-in, squeezing in administrative duties, and mentoring other physicians. “I’m sort of the program’s surge protector,” she says.