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Dr. James Hill

Orthopaedic surgeon and professor Dr. James A. Hill graduated from Lane Technical High School in 1967. He went on to receive his B.A. degree in biology from Northwestern University in 1971 and his M.D. degree from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 1974. After completing an internship at Evanston Hospital in 1975 and his residency training in orthopaedic surgery at McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in 1979, Hill served a one-year fellowship in sports medicine with the National Athletic Institute of Health.

In 1980, Hill was recruited as an instructor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Between 1982 and 1994, he was promoted through the faculty ranks at the Feinberg School of Medicine. He was later appointed as a full professor of orthopaedic surgery in 1994. During his tenure at Northwestern University, Hill served on several university committees, including as a member of the Admissions Committee from 1982 to 1989; chair of the Motion Analysis Laboratory Implementation Committee from 1982 to 1984; co-director of the Center for Sports Medicine in 1982; and a member of the Minority Affairs Advisory Committee in 1989. Hill also served as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1985. He has provided medical care for both amateur and professional athletes and was the physician for the United States Olympic Team in Seoul, Korea in 1988. Later, Hill served as an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, at Cook County Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. During his tenure at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Hill served on the Nominating Committee; as chair of the Medical Executive Committee in 2006; and as the hospital’s chief of staff from 2006 to 2008.

Hill has made hundreds of professional presentations and published papers in more than fifty-five medical journals, including Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation and Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. He has received numerous awards, including being honored in 2006 by Health for Humanity for leadership in improving cultural competency within the medical profession and global health. Hill was inducted in the inaugural class of the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association Hall of Fame (2007). He also received the Icon Award from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boys and Girls Club of Chicago (2008), and was honored by The Monarch Awards Foundation of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s Xi Nu Omega Chapter (2009).

Hill and his wife, Sandra Hill, have three children and one grandchild.

Dr. James A. Hill was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 20, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.236

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/19/2013

Last Name

Hill

Maker Category
Middle Name

Allen

Occupation
Schools

Lane Technical College Prep High School

Northwestern University

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HIL16

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Be Still And Know That I Am God.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

9/14/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Catfish, Chicken

Short Description

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Hill (1949 - ) served as a professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and as the chief of staff for Northwestern Memorial Hospital from 2006 to 2008.

Employment

Evanston Hospital

McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Northwestern Medical Alumni Association

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Cook County Hospital

Jesse Brown V.A. Westside Medial Center

V.A. Lakeside Medical Center

Children's Memorial Hospital

Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Provident Hospital

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Hill's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill describes his maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill talks about his paternal family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Hill recalls his paternal family lineage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill describes the house his grandfather built on land he purchased in the 1930s in Bolton, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill recalls an early childhood memory and his decision to become a doctor

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill recalls his childhood visits to the South

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill describes his parents' migration to and marriage in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Hill talks about growing up on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. James Hill describes the difference between the South Side and West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Hill talks briefly about his elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill talks about his childhood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill recalls his childhood friends and reflects on white flight from Chicago, Illinois' West Side

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill recalls keeping a gang member's son out of trouble and receiving protection in return

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill recalls his elementary school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill talks about his difficulty learning to read phonetically

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Hill recalls the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Hill recalls his childhood family traditions

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. James Hill talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. James Hill recalls a story about getting his brothers into trouble, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. James Hill recalls a story about getting his brothers into trouble, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Hill talks about the cancellation of his elementary school reunion

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill talks about testing for admission to Lane Technical College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill recalls his father's opposition to his marriage

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill recalls his experience attending Lane Technical College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill describes his high school teachers at Lane Technical College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill talks about black physicians who inspired him in his adolescence

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. James Hill reflects on the Civil Rights Movement and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s effect on racial disparities in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. James Hill talks about his attitude toward racism

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. James Hill reflects on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. James Hill recalls deciding to attend college despite the lack of counseling at Lane Technical College Preparatory High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Dr. James Hill describes his acceptance to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and his experience in the biology department

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. James Hill describes his interest in science

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill describes meeting and marrying his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill talks about working at the post office and renting an apartment in Juneway Terrace in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill talks about avoiding the Vietnam War draft by enrolling in medical school

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill talks about challenges in medical school

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill describes his medical school classmates and handling discrimination in his classes

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Hill recalls taking his family to the anatomy lab during medical school

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Hill talks about the significance of taking organic chemistry before medical school

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Hill talks about finishing medical school and deciding against specializing in neurosurgery

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Hill describes his residency in orthopaedics

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. James Hill remembers being racially profiled and arrested by the police

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill talks about his medical residencies

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill talks about his interest in post-graduate training after completing his orthopaedics residency

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill talks about deciding to return to Chicago, Illinois to practice orthopaedics in 1980

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill describes returning to Chicago, Illinois to practice orthopaedics

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill describes his positions at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Dr. James Hill explains his role on the Minority Affairs Advisory Committee at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Dr. James Hill explains the origins and mission of the J. Robert Gladden Society

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Dr. James Hill talks about his participation in the credentials committee and the oversight committee at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Feinberg School of Medicine

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Dr. James Hill describes the Northwestern Health Care Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Dr. James Hill talks about his duties as attending physician in orthopaedic surgery and about papers he has published

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Dr. James Hill lists the states in which he is licensed to practice medicine

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Dr. James Hill recalls going to Ethiopia in the late 1980s

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Dr. James Hill describes an article he wrote about healthcare in warzones while living in Ethiopia in the 1980s

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Dr. James Hill talks about advancements in orthopaedic surgery

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Dr. James Hill describes the racial disparity amongst patients who receive joint replacements

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Dr. James Hill talks about how long knee replacement surgeries last

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Dr. James Hill shares his personal philosophy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Dr. James Hill talks about his wife and oldest daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Dr. James Hill talks about his mentor's family and his own family-planning

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Dr. James Hill talks about his children and lessons he learned from his family

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Dr. James Hill talks about HistoryMaker Dr. Augustus A. White and culturally competent care

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Dr. James Hill talks about HistoryMaker Dr. Carlton West

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Dr. James Hill talks about the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Dr. James Hill reflects upon his life and future plans

Tape: 7 Story: 15 - Dr. James Hill considers his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 16 - Dr. James Hill offers a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

3$3

DATitle
Dr. James Hill recalls an early childhood memory and his decision to become a doctor
Dr. James Hill talks about his interest in post-graduate training after completing his orthopaedics residency
Transcript
So, now let's talk about you at an early age. And, we just talked about one of your earliest childhood memories, about going south each year. But, do you have another childhood memory that you can think of? Your earliest childhood memory.$$Earliest childhood memory. Oh, I got a lot of 'em. But, one that still 'til this day is relevant, is the fact that here in Chicago [Illinois] they had a big fire around Christmas time at a Catholic school [Our Lady of the Angels School, December 1, 1958], there was really in a Polish neighborhood. As you know, the demographics of Chicago, Chicago is probably the historically been the most segregated housing city in the United States. So, they had a Catholic school that was in a predominately Polish area. And, I think, it was week or so before Christmas, they had a horrific fire where--and, we had shortly before then got the old black and white TV. And, you could--they started running it on the news and you could see the house--the thing burning down. And, you could see the kids jumping out of the window. You could see them bringing out bodies on TV and, I think, at that point I was eight or nine years old. And, I sat there and watched it on TV and I said right then that I wanted to be a physician. 'Cause they showed all these kids at a morgue and they showed Cook County Hospital [later, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois], 'cause at that time that's where they took a lot of 'em. And, I was so impacted by the visual picture of that that I internally, and externally, I think, I told my parents [Doretha Lowe Hill and James Hill, Sr.] then. And, they kinda thought I was just having a childhood moment like being a cowboy or a fireman kinda moment. But, I said, I was gonna be a physician. And, lo and behold as the twist and turns that life goes, I've been fortunate. I'm one of the few people that I can honestly say have lived their dream from being a little kid. So, that's one thing I remember is, 'cause that was impactful enough that even though I twist and turns of life and you don't really know where your roads gonna lend--end. Really my vision at that point of where it was gonna go to, actually came true.$Let's go on to what happens after your residency [at Cook County Hospital, later John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois].$$What happened, at that time, most people completed a residency and went into practice. I really felt, once again my idea of; one, trying to control my own destiny to--with what God let me control. 'Cause our God controls everything, but I wanna give him at least a few ideas that he (laughter) might wanna consider before he direct me in one way or another. So, I figured out that if I wanted to live up to my potential, I would be much better getting some, what you would consider an academia, some post-graduate training. And, in my group, Northwestern [University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois] had a fairly large residency. And, so, there were ten people in my year. And, I was the only one that elected to do a post-graduate training. Meaning, to spend time in another area where you--a concentrated area of orthopaedics, whether than just going into practice after a residency. So, that was an interesting story too. So, I went to the chairman, who was like I said from day one, you know, I was kind of his favorite. Actually, the other residents would even say it, even though they were all white, they said, "You the favorite. You can get away with anything, where he gives us a hard time." So, I went to the chairman, I said, you know, "I wanna do some extra training." And, then he looked at me. 'Cause he actually got a Ph.D. So, besides being an orthopaedic surgeon, he had actually spent time getting a Ph.D. So, to have a resident come to him that wanna actually do extra training, he was ecstatic. So, he said, "Well, what do you wanna do it in?" And, this was when sports medicine was just emerging, when people started doing knee sculpts and everything else. So, when my residency, everybody used to have the big incisions on the knee. And, so, we--they just had started, just had come from Japan where you can start doing microscopic surgery on knees. So, I said, you know, once again, me not liking sick people, "This guy taking care of athletes, during microscopic surgery, that's sounds like what I wanna do." So, I--he said, "Okay." Then the next thought is, "Then where do you wanna do it?" I said, of course, "The places that are the best." And, the place that are the best is, at California, the Kerlan-Jobe [Orthopaedic Clinic, Los Angeles, California], like the guy that operated on Tommy John's elbow, was one place. And, then the other place was Columbus, Georgia, the guy that operated on Archie [sic, Robert] Griffin, III. What's his name? But, anyway, Columbus, Georgia--Andrews, Jim [James] Andrews, were the two prominent places for sports medicine. So, of course, I said, "I wanna go there." It's interesting, the guy that was prominent--so he contacted them both, based on my desires.$$And, this Dr. who?$$Dr. [William J.] Kane.$$Kane. Okay.$$Dr. Kane, who was chairman. He contacted them both, 'cause like I said, it was unusual to do extra training. The guy down at the Hughston Clinic [Columbus, Georgia], I had met him at a meeting. And, he was the typically southerner was--you know, Columbus, Georgia is in the middle of nowhere, as you know. And, so, he was, you know, he was a typical southerner, next generation from plantation owners mentality. On the other hand, once again, and I've gone through life with this all the time, that after people get to know me then they don't--stop seeing color again. And, just like I don't see color. It's real interesting if you approach 'em that way so you don't see color to make your decision, they after a while forget that you're black (laughter). And, so, he even though he's a hardcore southerner, I had interact--'cause I had written papers as a resident. You know, I had done research and things in ra--so, he knew of me. And, so, the chairman at some meeting or something, he brought me to introduce me to 'em. Actually, I think it was in Atlanta [Georgia]. Where I was at a meeting in Atlanta, he was there, and he said, "Why don't you go ahead a meet Jack Hughston," which was a senior guy then. And, and, I have talked to him about you wanting to come down here and doing a residency. So, this is like '78 [1978]. And, so, I--he meets me, and say, "I have read some of the things you're written, I think you would be a great addition, but we're not ready to have someone black"--and he was, he was not saying it in a malignant way. He was truthfully honest. He said, "We're just not ready for a black to come down here examining patients. And, so, I want you to come, but I know we're not ready." And, so, I thanked him. And, he actually, to this day, he invited me back to lecture when I got done. I mean, but he was--I respect the fact that he was just blatantly honest and he didn't, he didn't sidestep the issue. So, then, I ended up of course, out in California. So, I ended up doing my extra training out there. They wanted me to stay. I actually, during my training, I got to go see Magic Johnson. I was, I actually went back with Kareem [Abdul Jabbar] 'cause he hurt his ankle. But, I got to see the [Los Angeles] Lakers win the World Championship. I was on the field at the, at Pasadena [California] when Lynn Swann made the catch in the Super Bowl [XIV, 1980]. I got to see the [Los Angeles] Dodgers work the World Series. I mean, they took care of all the teams in L.A. [Los Angeles, California]. They wanted me to stay.