Dr. James Black: Alumni Spotlight

James Black, MD, MA

July 2017

Dr. James Black (Jim) received his Master of Arts in Bioethics from Wake Forest University in 2014.

Jim received a BS in Premedicine from Davidson College in 1970 and his medical degree from the UNC School of Medicine. He was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society in 1975 and completed a 4 year OB-GYN Residency at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in 1979. He fulfilled his 2 year ROTC active duty commitment as a staff OB-GYN physician at Darnall Army Community Hospital in Fort Hood, Texas.

Jim has been in the practice of OB-GYN for 38 years, dealing with women’s primary health care and health care maintenance issues and maintaining a practice in gynecologic surgery and menopausal transition issues. He practiced solo obstetrics through 1988.

In 2010, Jim received an information packet about the Bioethics Graduate Program in the mail. While he was still seven years away from retirement, he realized he needed to keep himself active by building up his “brain trust.” The Master of Arts in Bioethics degree offered an opportunity to expand his knowledge in the long term.

Jim uses his bioethics knowledge in his current practice, as well as when advising on end-of-life questions and hospice and palliative care situations. Jim serves on the Ethics Committee at Lexington Clinic and as a clinical bioethics consultant for inpatient settings and Hospice of Davidson County. Many times he is the point person who helps family members reach an end- of-life decision that honors the patient.

What most impressed Jim about Wake Forest University’s Graduate Program in Bioethics is the consolidation of so many talents in medicine, philosophy, divinity and law. He believes there are no weak links in the program and stresses that the class discussions give students an opportunity to experience perspectives from various professional paths. He is grateful to the staff who worked with him to integrate the program into his busy work schedule, attending evening classes for 4 semesters over 2 years. His thesis focused on the Faith Health Initiative in North Carolina, a state-wide initiative by Wake Forest Baptist and other medical providers to partner with faith communities to provide health care access and resources to their congregations and others in the region.

Jim has a wide range of interests, including tinkering on his 1967 Corvette and collecting antique books. He is a Presbyterian Elder and an Adult Sunday School Teacher. Although he is looking forward to retirement at the end of 2017, he plans to stay engaged in bioethics work and teaching, and will continue to serve on the Lexington Clinical Ethics Committee.