Good health is the baseline. For everything. How we work, how we play, what we choose to eat, where (and how often) we travel. The Mid-South has an abundance of hospitals and clinics that exist for the shared mission of a thriving community: wellness. Within those institutions, though, are women who have made it their own life mission to heal the sick and keep those blessed with good health on the right path, regardless of life stage.

Let this year’s list of Exceptional Women in Medicine be your first resource should you be in need of care, be it a sprained wrist or lingering stomach discomfort. These specialists have been chosen among peers as the best in their field. Your good health is their baseline.

HOW THE EXCEPTIONAL WOMEN IN MEDICINE ARE CHOSEN

Castle Connolly Top Doctors is a healthcare research company and the official source for Top Doctors for the past 25 years. Castle Connolly’s established nomination survey, research, screening, and selection process, under the direction of an MD, involves many hundreds of thousands of physicians as well as academic medical centers, specialty hospitals, and regional and community hospitals all across the nation.

The online nominations process — located at castleconnolly.com/nominations — is open to all licensed physicians in America who are able to nominate physicians in any medical specialty and in any part of the country, as well as indicate whether the nominated physician is, in their opinion, among the best in their region in their medical specialty or among the best in the nation in their medical specialty. Once nominated, Castle Connolly’s physician-led team of researchers follow a rigorous screening process to select top doctors on both the national and regional levels.

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Careful screening of doctors’ educational and professional experience is essential before final selection is made among those physicians most highly regarded by their peers. The result — we identify the top doctors in America and provide you, the consumer, with detailed information about their education, training, and special expertise in our paperback guides, national and regional magazine “Top Doctors” features, and online directories.

Doctors do not and cannot pay to be selected and profiled as Castle Connolly Top Doctors.

Physicians selected for inclusion in this magazine’s “Top Doctors” feature also appear online at castleconnolly.com, or in conjunction with other Castle Connolly Top Doctors databases online on other sites and/or in print. 

Castle Connolly was acquired by Everyday Health Group (EHG), one of the world’s most prominent digital healthcare companies, in late 2018. EHG, a recognized leader in patient and provider education, attracts an engaged audience of over 53 million health consumers and over 780,000 U.S. practicing physicians and clinicians to its premier health and wellness websites. EHG combines social listening data and analytics expertise to deliver highly personalized healthcare consumer content and effective patient engagement solutions. EHG’s vision is to drive better clinical and health outcomes through decision-making informed by highly relevant data and analytics. Healthcare professionals and consumers are empowered with trusted content and services through the Everyday Health Group’s flagship brands including Everyday Health®, What to Expect®, MedPage Today®, Health eCareers®, PRIME® Education, and our exclusive partnership with MayoClinic.org® and The Mayo Clinic Diet.® Everyday Health Group is a division of J2 Global Inc. (NASDAQ: JCOM), and is headquartered in New York City.

The Exceptional Women in Medicine (EWIM) award was created by Castle Connolly in order to recognize female physicians who are often underrepresented among award recipients from various aspects of medicine.

EWIM physicians have greatly contributed to healthcare through clinical care, research, community service, education, and/or leadership

EWIM physicians have made significant outreach efforts to underserved communities.

EWIM physicians improved health outcomes for issues specific to women, such as increased childbirth options, better diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, heart disease in women, gender specific hip and knee replacements, etc.

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Dr. Purvisha J. Patel, M.D.

Dermatology — Advanced Dermatology and Skin Cancer Associates

Born in London, Dr. Purvisha Patel spent most of her first 12 years in Wales before her parents — refugees from Uganda — seized an opportunity to run a motel in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She spent her formative years in Ashland, Virginia, and attended the University of Virginia as both an undergraduate and medical student. She completed her dermatology training at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis, where she served her residency under Dr. William Rosenberg. (“Dr. Rosenberg was an amazing thinker,” says Patel. “He had skin-care lines and patents, which inspired my own career.”)

“As an immigrant family, [my parents] thought being a doctor was the ultimate career choice,” she says. “Seeing my parents work so hard, never having a vacation … you want to do whatever it takes to make them happy. I loved science, and I was good at it. I often took care of our grandparents, who would come and live with us. I was a caregiver, so doing medicine flowed naturally from that.”

Patel describes her decision to specialize in dermatology as a “eureka moment,” one that came with a serious dose of heartache. “My parents were thinking cardiology or neurosurgery, maybe pediatrics,” she says. “Nobody [in my family] really knew what dermatology was. But skin is the largest organ in the body. I feel like a Sherlock Holmes of medicine. I can tell if a patient is vitamin-deficient, if they have thyroid disease, diabetes, if they’re taking their medicine. I can see what people are doing for hobbies, if they’re swimming in a pool, what kind of pets they have. Before we had lab tests, this was medicine. Looking at a person’s body for signs and symptoms of disease.”

Patel’s father died at age 57 from skin cancer, just as she was choosing her specialty. “I chose to be a skin-cancer surgeon,” she reflects, “when my dad looked at me and asked, ‘You could have gotten rid of this before it spread?’ That’s how I knew. It was an easy decision.”

Dermatology offers about the closest thing a doctor can find to instant results. An ailment can be diagnosed, addressed, and often removed in a single visit. “A patient gets to see a disease go away,” Patel emphasizes, “and that’s really gratifying. We get to see the progress of treatment. It’s super fun.”

Reflecting on two decades as a dermatologist, Patel notes advances in technology — as with any field of medicine — but stands by the same general approach she studied at the turn of the century. “When it comes to skin cancer,” she explains, “the answer is to still take it out. The procedure I do most — micrographic surgery — is considered cutting-edge, but it hasn’t changed much since I left my training. When it comes to medicine, we’re using immunotherapies now for melanoma treatment. Science has changed the field, but it’s still kind of ancient in its roots.”

The coronavirus pandemic has and will impact dermatology, but Patel already sees progress in the area of remote treatment. “We’ve been utilizing telemedicine throughout the lockdown,” says Patel. “It has a good place in dermatology when it comes to follow-up visits, acne and rashes, or refilling prescriptions. Still, when doing a full skin exam — looking for skin cancer — seeing the person [in the same room] is the gold standard.” — Frank Murtaugh

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Dr. Sylvia S. Richey, M.D.

Medical Oncology — West Cancer Center

As a young girl growing up in Birmingham, Dr. Sylvia Richey always knew she wanted to be a doctor. “Ever since I can remember, I was fixing and repairing my dolls,” she says, “and since my mother didn’t like the sight of blood, whenever anyone in the family needed a bandage, I took care of them. It seemed a natural path for me to take.”

A love of art history led her to a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, but she used her elective classes there to prepare her for study at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham. Although she originally planned to specialize in pediatrics, a fellowship in medical oncology brought her to UT-Memphis. After additional training at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, she returned here and joined the staff of West Cancer Center in 2005, where today she also serves as the associate medical director.

“What attracted me to oncology is that you are taking care of the whole patient and not just focusing on one organ,” she says. “To be effective, you have to treat cancer in the context of the rest of the body.”

In the 15 years since she’s been practicing, the most dramatic improvement in cancer treatment has been targeted therapy. “The sophistication of the molecular testing that we can do now really individualizes a patient’s treatment,” says Richey. “That approach didn’t exist years ago, but now it absolutely dictates how we treat every patient we see.” In the past, she explains, “Breast cancer was breast cancer. Now we know that not all breast cancers are the same, and so the treatment options are different for every patient.”

Richey has also witnessed many technological advances in her field, such as improvements in imaging, CT scans, and other diagnostic equipment. “We can find things earlier, which is great,” she says, “and surgeries have become less invasive, which is always better for the patient.”

In 2017, she took on a new role as director of the center’s Integrative Oncology Division, which is designed to address what patients can do for themselves during treatment. She likes this analogy: “If you think of cancer in someone’s body as a weed in their garden, the doctor is focusing on how to get rid of that weed, and we have to decide what weed killer to use,” she says. “But in the bigger picture, the patient has to take care of the whole garden, to make it as inhospitable as possible to that weed, so it won’t come back.”

The program addresses a patient’s spiritual and religious needs, shows them how to handle the psychological stress of a cancer diagnosis, and emphasizes the importance of nutrition, diet, and exercise. A new component is art therapy, where an artist works with patients during their “cancer journey.”

An integrated approach to therapy is key to the future of cancer treatment, says Richey. Also important is what she calls “survivorship” — how to get cancer patients back into society after they have recovered. That wasn’t always a concern years ago. “When I first started practicing,” she says, “our whole patient population would turn over every couple of years because patients were not long-term survivors. But now they are living longer, and I think that’s fantastic.” — Michael Finger

Allergy & Immunology

Dr. Christie F. Michael

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38105

Dr. D Betty Lew

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38105

Dr. Nora Daher

Daher Asthma & Allergy Clinic

2136 Exeter Rd.

Germantown, TN 38138

Cardiovascular Disease

Dr. Maureen A. Smithers

Sutherland Cardiology Clinic

7460 Wolf River Blvd.

Germantown, TN 38138

Child Neurology

Dr. Robin L. Morgan

Le Bonheur Outpatient Center

848 Adams Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. Amy L. McGregor

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

848 Adams Ave., Ste. L400

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. Namrata S. Shah

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

Neurology Clinic

Memphis, TN 38103

Clinical Genetics

Dr. Jewell C. Ward

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38105

Dermatology

Dr. Purvisha J. Patel

Advanced Dermatology & Skin Cancer Associates

7658 Poplar Pike

Germantown, TN 38138

Dr. F. Gwen Beard

Memphis Dermatology Clinic

1455 Union Ave.

Memphis, TN 38104

Dr. Malika Tuli

Mid-South Dermatology

6605 Stage Rd., Ste. 2

Barlett, TN 38134

Dr. Luella G. Churchwell

Dermatology East

1335 Cordova Cv.

Germantown, TN 38138

Dr. Robin H. Friedman-Musicante

Memphis Dermatology Clinic

1455 Union Ave.

Memphis, TN 38104

Dr. Teresa S. Wright

Le Bonheur Outpatient Center

848 Adams Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. Frances K. Lawhead

Memphis Dermatology Clinic

1455 Union Ave.

Memphis, TN 38104

Developmental – Behavioral Pediatrics

Dr. Toni M. Whitaker

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities

Memphis, TN 38105

Diagnostic Radiology

Dr. Sue C. Kaste

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Department of Diagnostic Imaging

Memphis, TN 38105

Family Medicine

Dr. Ericka L. Gunn-Hill

Jackson-Randle Family Healthcare

5142 Stage Rd., Ste. 100

Memphis, TN 38134

Dr. Aparna K. Murti

Methodist Medical Group

2589 Appling Rd., Ste. 101

Bartlett, TN 38133

Gynecologic Oncology

Dr. Linda M. Smiley

West Cancer Center

7945 Wolf River Blvd.

Memphis, TN 38138

Hematology

Dr. Patricia E. Adams-Graves

Regional One Health

Outpatient Center

Memphis, TN 38103

Internal Medicine

Dr. Joan Michelle Allmon

Aim Allmon Internal Medicine

526 Halle Park Dr.

Collierville, TN 38017

Dr. Natascha S. Thompson

UT Methodist Physicians

Primary Care

Cordova, TN 38018

Dr. Martha N. Taylor

Methodist Medical Group

7690 Wolf River Cir.

Germantown, TN 38138

Dr. Catherine R. Womack

UT Methodist Physicians

Primary Care

Cordova, TN 38018

Medical Oncology

Dr. Syvlia S. Richey

West Cancer Center

7945 Wolf River Blvd.

Germantown, TN 38138

Dr. Moon J. Fenton

West Cancer Center

Midtown Memphis Campus

Memphis, TN 38104

Dr. Carmel S. Verrier

West Cancer Center

7945 Wolf River Blvd.

Germantown, TN 38138

Nephrology

Dr. Lynn Ebaugh

East Memphis Nephrology

7640 Wolf River Cir., Fl. 2

Germantown, TN 38138

Neurology

Dr. Barbara Cape O’Brien

Neurology Clinic

8000 Centerview Pkwy., Ste. 300

Cordova, TN 38018

Dr. Rohini Bhole

UT Medical Group

1331 Union Ave., Fl. 11

Memphis, TN 38104

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Dr. Vanessa M. Givens

Women’s Health Specialists

7800 Wolf Trail Cv.

Germantown, TN 38138

Dr. Lanetta Anderson

Womens Physicians Group

7705 Poplar Ave., B Bldg. – Ste. 110

Memphis, TN 38138

Dr. Claudette J. Shephard

Regional One Health

Outpatient Center

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. Heather Pearson Chauhan

Exceed Hormone Specialists

7512 Second St.

Germantown, TN 38138

Ophthalmology

Dr. Mary E. Hoehn

Hamilton Eye Institute

930 Madison Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. M Cathleen Schanzer

VRF Eye Specialty Group

5350 Poplar Ave., Ste. 950

Memphis, TN 38119

Dr. Penny A. Asbell

Hamilton Eye Institute

930 Madison Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. Natalie C. Kerr

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

49 N. Dunlap St., Fl. 3

Memphis, TN 38103

Hamilton Eye Institute

930 Madison Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Dr. Lauren C. Ditta

Hamilton Eye Institute

930 Madison Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Otolaryngology

Dr. Victoria L. Lim

Shea Clinic

6133 Poplar Pike

Memphis, TN 38119

Pediatric Endocrinology

Dr. Joan C. Han

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 100

Memphis, TN 38105

Dr. Alicia M. Diaz-Thomas

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 100

Memphis, TN 38105

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital

49 N. Dunlap St., Fl. 3

Memphis, TN 38103

Pediatric Hematology- Oncology

Dr. Melody J. Cunningham

Le Bonheur Outpatient Center

848 Adams Ave., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38103

Pediatric Nephrology

Dr. Margaret C. Hastings

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38105

Pediatric Otolaryngology

Dr. Jennifer D. Mclevy

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. G10

Memphis, TN 38105

Pediatric Pulmonology

Dr. Patricia J. Dubin

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 400

Memphis, TN 38105

Dr. Tonia E. Gardner

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Fl. 4

Memphis, TN 38105

Pediatric Rheumatology

Dr. Linda K. Myers

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 100

Memphis, TN 38105

Pediatric Surgery

Dr. Eunice Y. Huang

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Fl. 2

Memphis, TN 38105

Pediatric Urology

Dr. Dana W. Giel

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 100

Memphis, TN 38105

Pediatrics

Dr. Janet D. Geiger

River City Pediatrics

6401 Poplar Ave., Ste. 610

Memphis, TN 38119

Dr. Ellen J. Stecker

River City Pediatrics

6401 Poplar Ave., Ste. 610

Memphis, TN 38119

Dr. Elisha M. McCoy

UT Le Bonheur Pediatric Specialists

51 N. Dunlap St., Fl. 4

Memphis, TN 38105

Dr. Dawn H. Scott

Pediatric Consultants

51 N. Dunlap St., Ste. 310

Memphis, TN 38105

Plastic Surgery

Dr. Patricia L. Eby

Cosmetic Surgery Specialists of Memphis

6401 Poplar Ave., Ste. 360

Memphis, TN 38119

Pulmonary Disease

Dr. Amik Sodhi

UT Methodist Physicians

Pulmonology

Memphis, TN 38104

Radiation Oncology

Dr. Jenny Tibbs

Saint Francis Hospital

Dept. of Radiation Oncology

Memphis, TN 38119

Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility

Dr. Amelia Bailey

Fertility Associates of Memphis

80 Humphreys Ctr., Ste. 307

Memphis, TN 38120

Surgery

Dr. Lindi Hanna Vanderwalde

Baptist Medical Group

Memphis Breast Care

Memphis, TN 38120

Dr. Alyssa D. Throckmorton

Baptist Medical Group

Memphis Breast Care

Memphis, TN 38120

Urogynecology/Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery

Dr. Val Y. Vogt

The Conrad Pearson Clinic

1325 Wolf Park Dr., Ste. 102

Germantown, TN 38138