Spend about thirty seconds with Dr. Michelle Kitson, and two things become crystal clear: 1) She has a lot going on and 2) She only picks things to focus on that she can get truly excited about.
“The first thing that struck me about Dr. Kitson was the conviction in her tone of voice,” says Clint Cummins, CEO of Memphis Medical Society. “In our first conversation she succinctly and passionately relayed her interest in being a part of organized medicine. She really wanted to know why the profession needed her voice and energy.”
Those character traits must come, at least partially, from her uniquely worldly upbringing. She has roots and/or family on three continents, including the countries of England, Jamaica, and the United States. Those experiences, and her talents, led her to Tennessee. She studied and was trained in Internal Medicine at Meharry Medical College, where she serves today as an Adjunct Assistant Professor. She also serves as an Instructor at UTHSC.
Before arriving in Memphis to practice with MMG Eastmoreland, she spent a brief, but impactful period in rural West Tennessee where primary care from physicians is becoming harder and harder to come by. She held those positions while raising her son, who is an adult living in Memphis today.
Now in her 11th year practicing medicine in the Bluff City, Dr. Kitson has added another official title connected to her passions: President of Bluff City Medical Society.
Her colleague, and BCMS Presidential predecessor Dr. Latonya Washington had this to say about her successor: “Dr Kitson as a successor is not just someone who follows but someone who carries the torch with a vision, inspiring continuity and growth. She has continued to push forward the vision and mission of the Bluff City Medical Society as we continue to impact the Memphis community in a meaningful way.” One of the great níches of MMS and most medical societies is teaching members “what you didn’t learn in medical school.”
Dr. Kitson is the personification of that. In addition to the advocacy elements of our work, she espouses a keen focus on keeping a great bedside manner, reading the body language of patients, and prioritizing needs around social determinants of health for her patients. She describes that responsibility as a “sacred privilege” that she clearly blends with her clinical expertise.
Where Dr. Kitson may shine the most is within the balancing act she performs as mother, physician, advocate for her profession, advocate for her patients, and advocate for the improvement of health in her community. While spinning each of those plates, she still strives to be mindful of her own wellbeing. She advises her early-career colleagues to “make self-care a priority in this journey we call the practice of medicine.”
Finally, Dr. Kitson issues a friendly challenge to her colleagues and neighbors: “The future of medicine does require input of practicing physicians to ensure that the needs of patients and physicians are best served. Medicine must be approached as a ‘team’ based endeavor, lest the stakeholders sacrifice the health and wellbeing of both patients and physicians in the pursuit of profit. Our power to effect positive change is dependent on our collective efforts to improve the systems that revolve around the physician-patient pact and relationship.” Let’s put that in a medicine bottle and ship it to every medical school in the country.
Learn more about Bluff City Medical Society at bluffcitymedicalsociety.org.