Dr. Tom Gettelfinger Retires After Four Decades

Tom Gettelfinger, MD

After 46 years of practice, Tom Gettelfinger, MD, has retired. However, he says he's not done yet.

"I'd still like to change the world," Dr. Gettelfinger said after leaving the Memphis Eye and Cataract Associates (MECA).

Over the years Dr. Gettelfinger has worked in India, Afghanistan, Mexico, Zaire, Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Myanmar, and Peru as a volunteer eye surgeon.

Part of a family that includes a long line of physicians, Dr. Gettelfinger, never considered any other profession. He was Valedictorian of his high school class in Louisville, Kentucky, earned his BS at the University of Notre Dame, and his MD at Harvard Medical School.

He completed residency training at the University of Washington and began private practice in Memphis with Dr. Jerre Freeman in 1976 - the two co-founding MECA, Memphis Eye and Cataract Associates.

His many visits to Brazil began as a young doctor performing eye surgery on the hospital ship Esperanca as it sailed the Amazon. He went on to become Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), a delegate to the Tennessee Medical Association, a board member of the World Cataract Foundation, an editor of the Memphis Medical Society's The Quarterly, president of the Tennessee Academy of Ophthalmology, board member of Brooks Museum and president of its support group, Art Today, a volunteer with the Church Health Center and is currently chair of the Advisory Committee for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Memphis.

Dr. Gettelfinger has received numerous awards, including Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities, the Honor Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Luke Tupper Award from Esperanca International, the Good Samaritan Award, Best in Show (photography) from Arts in the Park and distinguished service award from the Tennessee Medical Association.

In addition, he is a member of the Harvard Club of New York, and the English Speaking Union, Memphis.

"In retirement I'm considering a number of options," he said. "In particular, I'd like to do more to control the outrageous cost of drugs and pharmaceuticals, especially to make pricing structures more transparent.

"I still want to change the world," he added.

"I'm just not sure the world wants me to change it."


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