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Dr. J. Martin Tucker talks with medical students Ruth Fowler, left, and Tori Wilson in this file photo from early 2020.
Dr. J. Martin Tucker talks with medical students Ruth Fowler, left, and Tori Wilson in this file photo from early 2020.
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ACOG taps ob-gyn chair to lead national women’s health org

Published on Monday, May 10, 2021

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

University of Mississippi Medical Center’s chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology is leading his profession at a national level.

Dr. J. Martin Tucker was sworn in as the 72nd president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists during ACOG’s 2021 Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting.

“Dr. Tucker is an OB/GYN’s OB/GYN,” said Dr. James N. Martin, UMMC professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology and an adjunct professor at Wake Forest School of Medicine who served as ACOG president from 2011 to 2012. “His experience as a practicing OB/GYN in maternal fetal medicine, his expertise in private practice and academic roles will make him an excellent president for the college.”

Dr. J. Martin Tucker made a virtual speech after being sworn in as the 72nd president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Tucker presents a virtual speech after being sworn in as the 72nd president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In his speech at ACOG’s annual meeting, held virtually May 2, Tucker reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has involved 30 million cases in the United States and close to 600,000 deaths.

Throughout the pandemic, ACOG’s 60,000 members have practiced on the front lines, and the organization has had key roles in developing best practices around the effects of COVID-19 on patients, especially pregnant patients, he said.

“The events of the past year quickly brought challenges and changes that none of us could have anticipated,” Tucker said, “but we adapted. I have to think, in large part, we adapted because we care. We care about our patients, we care about medicine, we care about women’s health care, we care about the future, and we care about each other.”

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said Tucker’s leadership among the nation’s obstetricians and gynecologists reflects the quality of faculty members and department chairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

LouAnn Woodward
Woodward

“Becoming president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is an extraordinary achievement, and we take pride not only in Dr. Tucker’s ACOG leadership but in the example he provides to the next generation of obstetricians and gynecologists in the state,” she said. “He is committed to improving women’s health care and we know that, at the national level, his influence in doing so will be even greater.”

During his presidency, Tucker said, “ACOG will continue to emphasize its mission of education, practice support, research, and advocacy.”

An advocate of immunizations, Tucker said that, as ACOG president, he will promote the organization’s work in ensuring that women receive recommended vaccinations.

"This is particularly important to ensure access to the COVID-19 vaccines throughout roll out of these vaccines – and that the rollout effort is appropriate to meet evolving needs,” he said. “We also want to increase awareness of the routinely recommended influenza and Tdap vaccines during pregnancy through collaboration with our partners and outreach to our members through an enhanced communications campaign.

Vaccinations for human papilloma virus, or HPV, will also be a focus.

“Cancers caused by the human papilloma virus are preventable,” he said. “In the United States, HPV vaccination rates are just over 50 percent. We will prioritize increased HPV vaccination rates for adolescents and young adults by building on and strengthening our ongoing collaborations with pediatric, gynecologic, and oncology organizations.”

Dr. J. Martin Tucker was presented the presidential medal of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology by his wife, Robin.
Tucker receives the presidential medal of ACOG from his wife, Robin.

The University of Mississippi alumnus became a department chair at UMMC, his medical alma mater and where he completed his residency, in January 2020, a few months before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Mississippi.

“From the early days of the pandemic when we were trying to deal with challenges like personal protective equipment, supply chain disruptions, and work force issues, the medical community put themselves in harm’s way every day in the interest of patient care,” Tucker said. “In some parts of the country, medical systems were at the brink of collapse during the peak of the pandemic, but through commitment and perseverance, the medical community prevailed. As always, ACOG remained the leader in women’s health care, being at the forefront of developing best practices in dealing with the effects of Covid-19 on our patients, especially our pregnant patients.”

Other priorities for Tucker as ACOG’s leader include achieving equitable reimbursement for women’s health care services and leveraging ACOG’s partnership with the Indian Health Service to improve Native American women’s access to subspecialty care.

Previously, Tucker was in private practice for 29 years while serving as affiliate faculty at the School of Medicine at UMMC. Tucker has also served as chief of staff of Woman’s Hospital and medical director of obstetrical services at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson.

He completed his maternal–fetal medicine fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Tucker was recognized as the UMMC Distinguished Medical Alumnus of 2018.

A fellow of ACOG, Tucker has been active in the organization at the national, district, section and committee levels, including service as secretary of the College and chair of the Council of District Chairs. Within District VII, he was chair, vice chair, and secretary—and previously, in the Mississippi Section, he was chair, vice chair, and secretary–treasurer.

“I enjoyed watching him rise through the ranks,” said Martin, who remembers Tucker as a resident during the years of Dr. Winfred L. Wiser’s leadership of obstetrics and gynecology at UMMC. "I recognized then that Dr. Tucker needed to be a leader of the college nationally.”

A McCain Fellow and a member of the American Medical Association CPT Editorial Panel, Tucker also chaired the Mississippi Infant Mortality Task Force and the Council on Legislation for the Mississippi State Medical Association.

A native of Aberdeen, Tucker and his wife, Robin, a graduate of the School of Nursing at UMMC, are the parents of four daughters: Clara Beth Tucker, a UMMC nurse; Sara Martin Tucker Maxwell, a certified public accountant who is married to Duncan Maxwell, a medical student at UMMC; Dr. Mary Grace Sessums, a graduate of the School of Medicine and an internal medicine resident at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, who is married to School of Medicine alumnus Dr. Price Sessums, an orthopaedics resident at the University of Florida in Jacksonville; and Dr. Ann Robin Tucker, a School of Medicine alumna and an assistant professor in the department her father chairs.

Tucker’s leadership experience and skills as a physician are only part of his qualifications as ACOG’s 72nd president, Martin said.

“First, Dr. Tucker admires and respects women, which is a critical characteristic for an OB/GYN,” Martin said. “He’s also a man of faith who operates at the highest level of integrity. With Dr. Tucker, what you see is what you get. He’s honest, bright, engaging, personable and people-oriented, and he knows what it is to have an OB/GYN practice. He’s walked the walk, and he’s the leader members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists need.”