Urologist settling into business routine at Natchez Community

Published 2:44 pm Sunday, May 20, 2007

An opportunity to work at Natchez Community Hospital included many of the things Dr. John Wright was seeking at this stage of his medical career.

With years of experience behind him that have included owning his own clinic and working for the U.S. Public Health Service, Wright is settling into a busy but comfortable routine in his office located adjacent to Community Hospital.

A native of West Virginia, Wright grew up in the Cincinnati area, attending a college preparatory high school and attaining so many advance-placement credits that he entered the University of Michigan as a second-semester sophomore.

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“I guess I became interested in medicine in a high school biology class in the ninth grade,” Wright said. “I was doing a project about jaundice and went to the public library to read a physiology book. I said, ‘I think I can do this.’”

However, he added quickly that in college he became interested in physics and considered becoming a physicist; and he enjoyed chemistry and considered becoming a chemist.

“But I always kept coming back to that goal of medicine,” he said.

Between college and medical school he spent about nine months in an arthritis study. Then he continued medical studies at the University of Michigan.

From Michigan, he went to the University of Missouri and completed a one-year internship and a one-year residency in surgery.

He joined the Navy and was sent to the Philippines, where he spent three years as a physician and naval officer.

“Then I did a three-year residency in urology at the University of South Florida.”

He entered private practice in South Florida. His wife, Christine, a medical technologist, worked with him in private practice.

The clinic grew from his private urology clinic to a multi-doctor clinic that included many specialties and up to 40 employees.

“Then I was in charge of the whole clinic,” Christine Wright said. “It became busier and busier.”

John Wright said having the large clinic “was fun at first, but it kind of wore us down.”

The Wrights moved west, where he spent three years with Indian Health Services, a branch of the public health system.

The decision to come to Natchez was a result of many things coming together at the same time, Wright said.

“I had read about Health Management Associates (owner of Natchez Community) and I liked what I saw,” he said.

He especially liked the idea of living in a smaller town and holding a salaried position, learning about the community and gradually building up a new practice.

“I visited and found high morale among the doctors and the administration was very welcoming. They rolled out the red carpet,” he said.

Urology centers on the urinary systems of men and women and the genital organs of men, he said.

“We deal with all ages, but our patients are mostly elderly, that term being a relative one.”

Many people associate urology with prostate cancer because of the high profile given that disease in recent years.

“Awareness has increased,” Wright said. “It’s the male cancer like breast cancer for women.”

The publicity given prostate cancer has its downside, too, he said. “I’m concerned by and large that we may be over diagnosing and over treating prostate cancer, and by ‘we’ I mean American medicine.”

Wright believes in a conservative approach that centers on watchful waiting, especially among elderly patients.

Urology is changing, with new techniques and new procedures available for physicians, Wright said.

“It’s challenging and interesting to me as a doctor,” he said.

There is another plus for him. “Urology has a high percentage of diagnostic accuracy and of treatment success,” he said.

The Wrights are settled into a house they love and are becoming accustomed to the Southern hospitality they have found everywhere, they said.

That includes the people with whom he works at the hospital, he said. “All the workers in the hospital are very knowledgeable and friendly.”