Dr. Nancy Dickey was the first woman to be elected president of the American Medical Association. When she took on the role she was required to spend nearly 170 days of the year traveling the country and abroad on AMA business. As the mother of three and program director of a family practice program, she has had to work hard to balance all her responsibilities as an educator, leader, and parent, yet she still enjoys making time to see patients and keep up with the practice of medicine.
Nancy Wilson was born in South Dakota in 1950. When she was 9, her family moved to California, where they had indoor plumbing for the first time. She was discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine while she was at high school, and told that it was not compatible with raising a family. She enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University in 1968, majoring in psychology and sociology, and met Frank Dickey, who encouraged her to aim for a career and a happy family life. Nancy Wilson graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1972 and the couple were married soon after. Nancy Dickey enrolled at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, after graduate studies in psychology at her undergraduate alma mater. She graduated with her doctor of medicine degree in 1976, and had her first child, Danielle, while completing her residency. Her second, Wilson, was born during Dr. Dickey's internship, and she had her third child Elizabeth in the early years of setting up in private practice. In fact, she often had to advise her pregnant patients that she might be unable to attend them in childbirth if their due date was too close to her own.
In 1979, after three years of post-graduate work at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston where she had trained as a physician, Dr. Dickey was appointed director of patient education in the family practice residency. After a series of appointments on the faculty there, as well as on staff at associated hospitals, in 1996 Dr. Dickey was appointed associate professor in the department of family and community medicine at the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. That same year she founded, was also appointed director of, the family practice residency of the Brazos Valley.
In 1998 Dr. Dickey was the first woman to be appointed president of the American Medical Association (AMA). She became involved with the organization early in her career, as an elected member of the AMA Council on Medical Services. She was only 26 years old when she took on the role, as one of the first group of medical students and residents to be admitted to the councils of the AMA. When she was appointed president of the organization in 1998 she was also the youngest physician elected to the presidency this century.
Dr. Dickey currently serves as president of the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health affairs. She is a member of the Houston-Galveston Medical Board of Advisors and on the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine. She has also served on the editorial advisory board of Medical World News, Medical Ethics Advisor, Patient Care, Hippocrates, and the Archives of Family Medicine.
In 1995 Dr Dickey received the Citation of Merit Award from the Texas Society of Pathologists. She is featured in the 2002 edition of Who's Who Among American Teachers, and in 2001 was listed as one of America's "Best Doctors". In 2001, the residency program she established in Brazos Valley announced the launch of the "Nancy Dickey, M.D., Leadership in Family Practice" lectureship.