By Annie Rhoades
Dr. Demondes Haynes (BA 95, MD 99), program director for pulmonary and critical care fellowships with the University of Mississippi Medical Center, knew from an early age that he wanted to spend his life in service to others. Taking on the roles of physician, professor and mentor have allowed him to do just that.
A native of Louisville, Miss., Haynes was one of 14 children in a large family where the ability to succeed and a servant’s heart were greatly valued.
“My mother always instilled in us the desire to help other people,” said Haynes. “My father also instilled a great work ethic in me. He worked in a factory for 35 years, and neither he nor my mother ever graduated high school but were the smartest people that I knew. They always taught my siblings and me that we could do anything that we wanted as long as we worked hard and encouraged us to pursue the best education possible. I thought one of the best ways that I could help people was by providing health care.”
Haynes graduated from Louisville High School in 1991 and promptly enrolled at Ole Miss to major in biology. He knew his ultimate goal was a career in medicine.
“I knew since high school that I wanted to attend Ole Miss,” said Haynes. “The university had the reputation for having the best pre-medical program in the state. If I was going to go into medicine I wanted to go to the place that has the best program.”
A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Haynes found it difficult at times to balance the rigors of academic life with the university’s thriving social scene.
“It required some sacrifice for me to say I can’t go to the party tonight because I’m studying for a big chemistry test,” said Haynes. “Thank goodness I was able to budget my time enough so that I knew the things I needed to get done, but I could still have fun and enjoy my time.”
Haynes made many lifelong friends through his fraternity, but one of the things he enjoyed most about Greek life was the ability to volunteer and give back to the community.
“Most fraternities you get into for the brotherhood aspects, but the service aspects were amazing as well,” said Haynes. “We tutored at one of the local schools in Oxford and did a variety of different service projects around town.”
Haynes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1995 and after interviews with several medical schools; he decided to enroll at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
“UMC was known at the time for having the best education for the best cost,” said Haynes. “The other reason I selected UMC is because Mississippi is one of the few states that still has only one medical school. By being able to attend the only medical school in the state I knew I would get the opportunity to see a diverse patient experience and get to treat a little bit of everything.”
While his heart was initially set on pediatrics due to his love of children, Haynes quickly discovered during his medical school rotations that he enjoyed all facets of medicine. He eventually settled on internal medicine, with the desire to specialize in critical care and pulmonary medicine.
“While training in internal medicine one of the first rotations I did was in the intensive care unit, which holds the sickest people in the hospital,” said Haynes. “During that time I felt a calling to critical care because I thought that’s where I could make a big impact. I love the ICU and what I do as a pulmonary and critical care doctor.”
After a brief stint in private practice with Jackson Pulmonary Associates, Haynes was recruited to return to UMMC as both a professor and practitioner in 2007.
“My favorite part of my job is truly the interaction I get to have with my patients,” said Haynes. “It’s not always easy in the ICU and even in the pulmonary side dealing with a lot of patients that don’t survive. But it’s so rewarding to form that personal connection with my patients. I use that as part of my ministry to work with the families who are dealing with a patient who will not get better. I feel like that’s part of my calling. We’re all put on the earth to do something, and I think mine is twofold – to take care of patients and to teach.”
Haynes knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help of influential people coupled with the education he received from Ole Miss.
“Aside from my parents, Dr. Helen Turner (PhD 76, MD 79) was a huge influence in my life professionally,” said Haynes. “She is the former vice chancellor for academic affairs at UMC. She was a mentor and mother figure to me during medical school, residency, fellowship and once I joined the faculty. She always gave me sage advice, and I will forever be grateful to her for such.”
Haynes has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career including Intern of the Year, Chief Resident, All-Star Clinician and Teacher of the Year. But perhaps his greatest honor is serving as mentor to his many students.
“I would like to stay in academics because I get to have a greater impact on many more patients by teaching & practicing medicine than I ever could by solely providing patient care,” said Haynes. “The people I teach go out and take care of patients, so if I teach them appropriately and they take what I teach them, I get to impact patients all over the country and the world.”