DeAnn M. Bullock, MD, FAAEM
Chief Medical Officer
Nashville General Hospital at Meharry
Emergency Department Medical Director
"I went into healthcare simply to help people," stated DeAnn Bullock, MD.
Growing up in a family of teachers and physicians, she didn't have to look far for role models. "My father and mother both instilled in me that service to others is one of the most important things you can do."
The Nashville native graduated from Tennessee State University before enrolling in Meharry Medical College. While always confident in her decision to be a physician, choosing a specialty didn't come quite as easily. She liked several specialties but didn't love them. "One summer I went out to visit my uncle in California who was a general surgeon," recalled Bullock. "He said, 'You move fast, you think fast ... you should consider emergency medicine.'"
At that time, the specialty wasn't a dedicated rotation, so Bullock reached out to Wayne Moore, MD, at Nashville General Hospital to see if she could tag along for some extra shadowing shifts in the Emergency Department. "I fell in love with it and never looked back," she said.
After graduation, she matched in emergency medicine at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where she became chief resident. After finishing her training, Bullock headed to Jacksonville, N.C., to work as a civilian contractor at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune while her husband, Marc Watkins, MD, completed his service as a Navy physician. The two met in Nashville as she was finishing undergrad and he was beginning medical school and knew each other about a year before dating. "I ran into Marc and his roommate in the bookstore while they were buying dissection kits for gross anatomy, and we all went to lunch," she laughed of their 'romantic' start.
When the couple returned to Nashville after completing training and obligations, Bullock had the opportunity to return to Nashville General Hospital ... this time as a full-time, contracted physician with TeamHealth, one of the nation's largest physician services companies. Bullock, who is board certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, was named medical director for the ED in 2014.
More recently, she was named chief medical officer for Nashville General. "The chief medical officer role really focuses on patient safety, quality, physician engagement and alignment," noted Bullock. "As an ED physician, you interact with everyone, building relationships throughout the hospital ... so there's a level of trust and comfort. The providers know I'm here for our patients and for them. I'm dedicated to the organization and its mission."
A champion of Nashville General as a healthcare destination for all Nashvillians, Bullock is passionate about providing high quality, equitable access to care to everyone who comes through their doors. "I am also passionate about partnering with my patients and physician leaders to understand the 'why's' of our processes to ultimately arrive at solutions." It's critical, she noted, to keep patients at the center of care and to actively engage them in their own healthcare journey.
"As a constant patient advocate, being able to guide your patient through their present situation provides the most satisfaction and is one of the best aspects of being a physician," said Bullock. "The ability to provide my patients a personal and caring experience, one in which they know their physician is a champion for them, no matter the outcome, is truly gratifying."
That unwavering support is evidenced by Bullock's role as medical director of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program of Davidson County, which is based at Nashville General. She praised the skilled team of nurse practitioners for their dedication to the women and men who have faced assault.
Her experiences with SANE and in emergency medicine have taught her not every outcome is the desired one. "I am humble enough to understand that I cannot work miracles, but I can tirelessly advocate for my patients at every encounter," she said.
Hectic schedules mean time with her husband, who serves as CMO of Kroger Health, commuting between Nashville and Cincinnati, and their two cats - Cira and Miyu - is especially appreciated. When Bullock has down time, she noted, "You'll usually find me running on some random trail or in my kitchen cooking." She and Marc are foodies who love creating dishes and entertaining friends and extended family at home.
Bullock recognizes the importance of recharging so she's ready to face whatever issues come her way. "I am fully committed to making Nashville one of the healthiest cities in the country. Even though I face a number of difficult challenges every day, being privileged to meet patients where they are and get them where they need to be is what keeps me coming back. Each day, when the day is over, I know I've made a difference in someone's life," she concluded.