Alaska Native/Indigenous People

Dr. Terry Simpson – Alaska Native Doctor

Dr. Terry Simpson. Courtesy photo
Dr. Terry Simpson. Courtesy photo

I joined Twitter in 2009. One of the people I started following from the beginning was Dr. Terry Simpson (@terrysimpson). I think I found him when he mentioned he was Athabascan. I was impressed to learn Terry was a doctor.

I talk with Terry occasionally on Twitter, but I mostly follow his musings about life and common sense advice about health (@drterrysimpson). He also has some great conversations with people, including his wife whom he met on Twitter (@producergirl). Now, Terry and April have a son, JJ, and live in Phoenix.

I don’t know too many doctors who are Alaska Native. I reached out to Terry to learn more about his background and why he wanted to become a doctor. Terry decided to become a doctor after his experience with a family doctor living in Ketchikan. The doctor was nice and Terry wanted to be just like him. Terry says, “He gave me some old medical pathology textbooks, and I loved it.” Terry received his bachelors, masters, and medical degree from the University of Chicago. Terry is the most experienced Lap-band surgeon in Arizona.

Dr. Terry Simpson and his wife, April. Courtesy photo
Dr. Terry Simpson and his wife, April. Courtesy photo

James L. Simpson, Terry’s father, was the first Alaska Native with a doctorate. His father inspired him to pursue higher education, not in words but with action. James was raised in the Jesse Lee Home, an orphanage in Seward. James wrote about his experience in his book, Jesse Lee Home – My Home.

Despite living out of Alaska, Terry is very involved with ensuring the next generation of Alaska Natives receive educational opportunities. He believes that Alaska Natives can excel an anything. Terry stresses that we should help one another to succeed rather than pulling each other down. While serving as a chairman of CIRI, he worked hard to make sure the CIRI Foundation could offer large grant opportunities to students.

“Hard work and education is the key to all of us doing well, not just self – but all of us. The message has to change that our community is extended and when one does well, we all do well – and we all then give back.” – Dr. Terry Simpson

Dr. Terry Simpson accepts a National Indian Health Board Area/Regional Impact award on behalf of Southcentral Foundation. Photo courtesy of Southcentral Foundation
Dr. Terry Simpson accepts a National Indian Health Board Area/Regional Impact award on behalf of Southcentral Foundation. Photo courtesy of Southcentral Foundation

Terry serves on the board of the Southcentral Foundation, a non-profit organization that co-manages the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Recently, Dr. Simpson and Southcentral Foundation President/CEO Katherine Gottlieb received the National Indian Health Board Area/Regional Impact Awards at the 30th Annual Consumer Conference. Terry is proud to give back to CIRI and Southcentral Foundation.

Terry is passionate about sharing health information and the importance of a healthy diet. He shares many tips about it on his blog and social media:

Social media is a way for Terry to engage with people and discuss the issues. While many people focus on the latest diets and weight loss fads, Terry says, “It isn’t that easy or that simple.” He goes on to say, “People who learn to cook and make their food do so much better than those who eat out or eat fast food.”

Terry loves food and how it is prepared. He says, “I love the ‘best’ salmon recipes and berries and everything together.”

Terry encourages those who want to become a doctor just to go for it. He says, “Being a doctor is an ancient and noble profession- with amazing history – and you get to make differences in people’s lives.”

I appreciate Terry for making a difference in the lives of his patience and for many people who benefit from his advice about healthy eating.  I admire the way Dr. Terry Simpson gives back to his community. We need more Alaska Native and American Indian doctors, like Terry.

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