NASHVILLE, Tenn. Phillip Morris’ father was a minister. So, too, was his grandfather. As such, they strove to nurture and protect the spiritual health of all people. Through compassion, diligence, hard work and sacrifice, they served and worked alongside congregations for the betterment of their communities.
Morris always wanted to be a part of that family business. He just wanted to do it a different way.
Becoming a healer
“I wanted to be in medical healing, which can be linked to spiritual healing,” he said.
Upon graduating from Blythewood High School in Blythewood, S.C., Morris enrolled at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., to study biology and chemistry. It was here that he found the desire to become a physician.
“I started as a Medical Scribe in the Emergency Room at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg,” he recalled. “Seeing how doctors were able to intervene and help people was really inspiring.”
He earned a Bachelors of Science degree, and then relocated to Nashville, TN., to begin working toward a Masters Degree in Public Health from Meharry Medical College (MMC).
The Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) made its way onto Morris’ personal radar as a result of a series of Lunch and Learn sessions, one of which focused on a public health view of violence.
“Just to see all the different aspects of Lunch and Learn topics was really interesting,” he said.
Currently, Morris is an intern working with the MVA’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) and Institutional Collaborative Learning pillar, assisting with projects like the Pipeline, which aims to bring more black men into healthcare professions.
“I want to build relationships with community leaders so that we can help further our health goals in the community,” he said. “My goal here is to gain all the experience possible.”
Morris also works with the Truth Initiative, a tobacco prevention nonprofit that operates nationwide. In Nashville, they’re conducting assessments to determine the community’s view and knowledge of smoking and secondhand smoking’s effects.
“We’re in an effort to get at least one bar, business or restaurant to go tobacco free in Nashville,” he said.
The Truth Initiative’s efforts don’t end with cigarettes, either. They’re also investigating the effects of e-cigarettes, vaping and hookahs.
“An e-cigarettes contains as much tobacco as 100 regular ones,” Morris explained.
‘Everyone has a purpose”
Morris’ overarching mission is to help everyone reach their full potential.
“Everyone has a purpose and a reason for being here,” he said, “and the world is not meant to go without their purpose.”
That, he says, is the mark he’d like to make on this world.
“The impact that I want to make is just to help people be all they can be,” he said. “I want to help them get the opportunities to reach their full potential.”
About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance
Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.