A Strategic Optimist


After graduating from UNC School of Pharmacy and opening a pharmacy in his hometown of Hope Mills, N.C., John T. Henley ’43 realized his patients were struggling with primary care. From his window at work, he saw patients going into the hospital across the street for sicknesses that could be diagnosed with a simple visit to a primary care physician. He also saw a bigger need for changes in primary care.

So to start, he pushed for North Carolina legislature to create and fund the UNC Department of Family Medicine in 1969. Then he joined the Health Manpower Commission in 1973 where he helped create the East Carolina University School of Medicine. Without Henley’s leadership in promoting primary care, North Carolina would have a huge shortage in primary physicians.

“John Henley was a strategic optimist,” said Rick Kellerman, chair at KU Wichita Family Medicine. “He was a leader who had a vision, communicated that vision, and put the resources and people together to accomplish that vision.”

Read the complete Carolina Story from UNC Health Care…

To honor Sen. John T. Henley’s leadership efforts in primary care, his family and friends created an endowment in 2016 to support a “leadership in family medicine.” This money will help with progressing family medicine.

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