James C. Fleming, MD, FACS, director of the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has received the 2017 Outstanding Physician Award from the Tennessee Medical Association. Dr. Fleming is also the Philip M. Lewis Professor of Ophthalmology and former chair of the Department of Ophthalmology in the College of Medicine at UTHSC.
According to the organization’s official press release, the Outstanding Physician Award, given by the organization’s House of Delegates, is awarded to “TMA member physicians who, during the course of their careers, have made a distinctive mark on the profession of medicine, their colleagues and their communities.”
With more than 36 years of experience, Dr. Fleming began his career with UTHSC in 1997 when he was recruited by the late Barrett Haik, MD, FACS, respected ophthalmologist, Hamilton Professor and founder of HEI, to lead HEI’s oculoplastic services.
A native Memphian, Dr. Fleming is a member of a large medical family. There are nine members of the family who have become physicians and another currently in medical school. “I was exposed to medicine early in life and my older brothers, were great examples,” said Dr. Fleming. “I learned early in life that medicine is a profession and not a job. It is about forming relationships with patients and advocating on their behalf.”
As a teenager, Dr Fleming was diagnosed with uveitis, a type of inflammation in the eye. This was his introduction to the field of ophthalmology, the field that he eventually pursued.“It really fascinated me and I knew then that it was exactly what I wanted to do,” he said.
A master clinician, Dr. Fleming is consistently recognized by “Best Doctors in America” organization and has received many awards both locally and nationally. He successfully unified a consortium of the Baptist and Methodist health care systems – competitors that almost never work together – and established the HEI ambulatory surgery center. Over the course of his career, Dr. Fleming has authored or coauthored about 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented more than 110 talks nationally and internationally. He also has a deep interest in health care policy and a long and outstanding record of service to multiple organizations such as the Tennessee Medical Association, American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and more.
Dr. Fleming has also traveled the world with ORBIS International and the World Cataract Foundation, volunteering his surgical expertise to improve the sight and lives of disadvantaged people in developing nations.
Dr. Fleming’s wife of over 40 years, Anne, is a UTHSC College of Nursing graduate. They are the proud parents of two daughters, Rebecca and Katherine, and the grandparents of five children.