John L. Tarpley, MD, FWACS, FACS
Is There a Role for Spirituality in Surgical Practice?
Tarpley attended undergraduate and medical school at Vanderbilt and trained in surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He spent two years at the NCI, Surgery Branch during residency. Tarpley is a “general general” surgeon whose first career (1978-1993) was in a tertiary care mission hospital in Ogbomoso, Nigeria, where he directed the training for general practice house officers and helped establish a nursing school. He served several years at the Loch Raven VA in Baltimore and on the Johns Hopkins faculty. He joined the Vanderbilt University Dept. of Surgery and the Nashville VA in 1993 as Associate Chief, Surgical Service. He directed the Vanderbilt General Surgery Residency program as Program Director from1995 to 2014. A professor of surgery and anesthesiology, he is also affiliated faculty in the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health and established the first ACGME-approved international rotation for surgery residents. He has co-taught medical school electives in global health, spirituality in medicine, and history of medicine. He has received a number of teaching awards locally and nationally. In 2002 Tarpley received the ACGME’s Parker J. Palmer “Courage to Teach” Award and in 2006 the Pfizer-ACS Surgical Volunteerism Award. Tarpley has been actively involved in mentoring medical students and surgical trainees his entire career, particularly those persons interested in teaching and in global health. He served as president of the Association of VA Surgeons and president of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery. The Society for Black Academic Surgeons elected him as an honorary member. He is a member of the American College of Surgeons, the West African College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, and others. Surgical education, global health, the history of medicine, spirituality in medicine, and clinical surgery especially in the treatment of patients with hernias or esophageal cancer are major areas of interest. He and Maggie Tarpley are known as “team tarpley”. They have three sons, three daughters in law, and four grandchildren.