A Journey From The Projects of Memphis To Becoming a Prominent Physician, Clinic Owner, And Author!
Dr. Robert L. Jamison has a great sense of humor, and he is a truly remarkable person. He was an absolute pleasure to speak with. The opportunity of speaking with this spirited gem taught me so many insightful lessons about determination and motivation. While sharing his story, I felt I had been taken on a journey with him—the trip of a lifetime. My fascination had been piqued by how someone could come from such a tumultuous background and yet triumph against all odds! There are no spoilers here, but it is pertinent to say that Dr. Jamison is a miracle man who works wonders. God has truly blessed and touched him in numerous ways throughout his life. I want to share with you what he told me about his rollercoaster life that led to triumph.
Hi Dr. Jamison, it's nice to speak with you today! It's an honor to be in your magazine.
Well, thank you! So, let's dig in? Where are you from? I'm from Memphis, TN. I was born and raised in South Shelby County. I'm always using this slogan, "I come from the heart of Midtown Memphis."
Oh yeah, and where is that? The projects. (laughs)
That's what came to mind when you said it. I think it's just because of the way you said it. (laughs) So basically, you grew up in an economically challenged community. Yes. I grew up in the heart of Midtown Memphis in a low-Income Housing community. I feel that this is important because where I come from, many people do not believe that people from the projects can succeed. I want to be a source of inspiration for those who come from impoverished communities.
What high school did you graduate from? I graduated from Memphis Technical High School in 1979.
What year did you start your medical career? I started my medical career at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN.
That's awesome. Let's go back to your childhood years because I like to dig a little bit deeper. OK, cool.
With all that you said coming from the projects in Memphis, TN, let's talk about a young man's journal from the projects to becoming a doctor. Let's talk about it. In my childhood, I lived in a home with domestic violence and a drug-addicted stepfather. As a result of my stepfather's abuse, my mother moved us to the projects so that we would be away from him and have a better life.
Once you moved, did things get better? Yes, it got better.
What was the length of time you spent in this abusive situation? Up until I was around 12 years old.
Coming from a home where your parents constantly fought, seeing a lot of drugs in the community, and watching people giving up on their dreams and lives? How did you differ from them? What changed in your life, and what motivated you to improve? Because my mother was one of the most important influences in my life, I wanted to do something positive to inspire her.
Your mother was inspired by something you did at a young age. Could you tell me more about it? Yes, I started my own business at 19 years old. At 20, I was the owner of my own company.
Wow, what was the name of the business? Jamison and associate's upholstery shop. It was a custom upholstery shop.
Well, you already had your own business at age 20. That's amazing! Thank you. Yes, I received my first degree in business and administration.
What educational programs did you take advantage of to obtain your college degree? Since I worked in the upholstery business, I was able to pay my way through school. By the time I was 20 years old, I had owned my own company.
Wow, that's awesome! What a massive accomplishment for a young man! Did you have employees working for you? I did. I had four employees, and they were all older than me. They were old enough to be my mom and dad. (laughs)
I love it! I started at Townsand Interior as a pillow stuffer, and that's how I became an entrepreneur. It was also an upholstery store at the time. I learned many skills as a pillow stuffer, and when I was ready to open my own business in the same building, I paid rent for the back portion of the building.
Being that young, did you have a mentor? Yes, a man by the name of Mr. Herman Owen. I considered him my business mentor. In addition, I would like to mention Larry Townsend as another notable name. Having worked for him for three years before becoming an entrepreneur, he opened many doors for me.
As your mentor, what were some things he encouraged you to do? He encouraged me to attend school to obtain my business and administration associate degree.
And the plot thickens. Now we're getting somewhere. This story is getting good. I can't wait to hear the rest of it. Carry on. During that time in history, Larry being Caucasian enabled him to open doors for me that I could not open for myself. Consequently, following his leadership allowed me to start my company, Jamerson and Associates Custom Upholstery.
That sounds amazing! Yes, it was great because, during that journey, I obtained major contracts with casinos, hospitals, clinics, and doctor's offices. This is what led me into the medical field.
Wow, you built one block up on the other. So, what else happened? As a result of my efforts, I managed to land a big contract at Baptist hospital doing draperies and pillows for some of the physician's offices.
So, one day while walking across the street to the hospital, I noticed that there were openings for patient escorts on the job board. Thus, I applied for the job and was hired. Approximately 65 to 70 days after being hired, I was promoted to work in the recovery room as a patient care technician.
During that time, The Baptist Hospital provided individuals with a tuition reimbursement program that would allow them to get into college programs as long as they maintained a B grade point average. To put it simply, they paid for your tuition as you progressed. Then you were able to move to other departments.
Where was the facility located? The University of Tennessee Medical Training facility was governed by the University of Tennessee College Memphis campus.
That's awesome! Yes, Baptist also had a Health Science program and nursing program.
That's great! I can see your life shape more and more towards your God-given destiny. Please continue. Well, while I was working in PACU.
PACU? Dr. You have to put this in words I can understand. (Laughs) Yes, PACU stands for "post-anesthesia care unit." That's done in the recovery room.
OK. Now I get it. Continue. OK, next, I started taking classes for surgery through the "National Surgery Institute," where I became a certified first assistant. I gained the skills and fundamentals needed to become a surgery assistant after completing that course. My fellowship in that area lasted about six months at the University of Tennessee. Following the completion of my fellowship, I then went on to undergo surgical training in cardiology, neurology, general gynecology, orthopedic and plastic surgery.
Within five to six years, I signed on with a cardiovascular group and worked as a physician assistant for Doctor H. Edward Garrett Jr. During those five years totaling ten years in the medical field, I moved up one notch further and earned a master's degree in health science to further my professional career.
How impressive you went even further than that. Tell me about it. Thank you. Then a few years later, I not only received my Ph.D. in Health Science, but, in 2006, I opened my first practice, "Intravenous nurses' IV therapy," where we provided long-term patient care for patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and various other illnesses. Everything was going smoothly until 2012, the year my mother passed away, and I went through a divorce.
Oh no, God bless you! I tell you, when it rains, it pours. Yes, so after mom passed away, I decided to relocate to California.
Something great came out of moving to LA. Can you tell us about that? Yes, I birthed a new company in 2012 called Alternative Healthcare, based in Los Angeles, California. Today I'm running a multi-disciplinary practice near downtown Los Angeles, CA. Within my network are over 8500 medical providers affiliated with numerous hospitals. A few of them include California Dignity Health, Long Beach memorial, USC, UCLA, and The United LA Medical network.
Wow! What an accomplishment! Thank you. Also, I would like to add, as of 2000, I have been affiliated with a Native American Veteran association called Nava, where we're doing behavioral health and chronic care management for all of Los Angeles, Northern and Southern California and being a support base for the VA Hospital and Veterans American.
Wow, amazing! Yes, so, my practice is a community healthcare practice that's affiliated with psychology associates in order for people who are suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar syndrome disorder, and substance abuse.
What great accomplishments. You've opened another location. Am I correct? Yes, In February of 2022, I opened my third location in Beverly Hills.
Tell me about your fundraisers? Sure, I do fundraisers for breast cancer utilizing the entertainment industry as a vehicle.
Through music? Yes, through music. I'm the founder of the "Five Stars (FTRS) Music Group" concert series, where we do concerts with old-school music groups. It's called "The Oldie Souldie" All of these groups are legends. Just to name a few of them from Memphis, TN. Amongst our celebrity list, upper formers are, The Temprees, The Bar Kay, and The Midlands. All these artists are originally from Stax Records. Additionally, I work closely with "Norma Carner and the Delfonics."
Are you working with anyone on these fundraisers? If so, who? Yes, I work with a female Entertainment Group based in Los Angeles, California, called Lady V Entertainment. Together, we organize fundraisers. Our organization supports the Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital (childhood cancer), and I am a three-time "Real Men Wear Pink" candidate for the American Cancer Society, which I have been supporting for more than 27 1/2 years. It was important to me that I bridge the gap between healthcare and entertainment in order to raise funds to support these important causes, both breast and childhood cancer.
When was this program created? The program was created in 2013 and is still going strong. In fact, we're into our 10th year.
I want to pull back a little bit because there are a couple of questions I wanted to ask you. Ok
Some people believe that doctors are geeks or have always received straight A's and B's in grade school. So, tell me, was that your case, or did you have times during grade school when your grades did not align with the public perception of what a doctor's grade should be like? Believe it or not, during grade school, I was somewhat intelligent. In elementary school, I maintain a high-grade point average. I was an A and B student.
Because I ran with the wrong group of students in junior high school, my grades suffered. I was a typical child growing up in the projects. In my teens, I hung out with the wrong crowd and smoked marijuana, as many project kids do. The result was a decline in my grades.
My destructive behavior continued in high school. I was trapped in a cycle. As my grades sank, I worked even harder to raise them within the next quarter of the semester.
When did things change for you? The first time I took my studies seriously was around the age of 16 and 17 years old.