A father’s importance and influence is often unmistakable. And that is especially true for the McCoys.
“Our dad not only gave us a love of medicine, he provided a powerful example of how to do it right,” explains Dr. Michael McCoy, who, like his father Robert, is a general surgeon at St. Jude Medical Center. But the family legacy within St. Jude’s surgical suites doesn’t end there: each of Dr. Robert McCoy’s three daughters have careers there as well.
“Growing up, we saw how fulfilling my dad found his work—and it inspired us,” says Jamie McCoy Casias, MMS, PA-C, Vascular Surgery. “He found such joy in improving people’s lives and I think we all thought, ‘I want that too.’”
As children they often accompanied their dad to St. Jude on Saturdays, waiting at the nurses’ station as he rounded on patients. “Looking back, there was so much we absorbed from simply watching him,” explains Emily McCoy, MMS, PA-C, Gynecology Oncology Surgery. “His humility, the respect and kindness he shows patients and staff, the high standard he holds himself to—these are all things we now try to bring to our own interactions.”
What’s interesting about those qualities is their similarity to the list Dr. Robert McCoy offers of what he learned from his father, Dr. Gordon McCoy, who joined St. Jude in 1960 as one of the hospital’s first general surgeons. Gordon was widely known for his commitment and compassion, evident every time he donated blood for his patients before performing surgery
or visited them at home to check on their progress. “My dad loved St. Jude and loved his patients—and they loved him,” explains Dr. Robert McCoy, who shares that passion with his father.
Gordon died before getting to see his grandchildren in St. Jude’s operating rooms, but patients and staff who knew him often share stories of his remarkable dedication and work ethic. “My grandfather, like my father, was a very humble man,” explains Amanda McCoy Belgram, MSN, RN, CNOR, Surgery. “It’s from the stories of others that we’ve learned just how unique he was—and how fortunate we are to be a part of his legacy.”
But not every characteristic extends through all three generations: their grandfather was well-known for his talented and robust singing accompaniment during surgery—often creating personalized songs for members of the operating room team—while their father’s vocalizations are more moderate, typically confined to singing a few lines of whatever music is playing. Meanwhile, not even humming can be heard during Michael’s surgeries. “We plan to bring singing in the OR back with the next generation,” says Jamie, the mom of an 18-month-old.
For the McCoys, five individuals from the same family in the same department creates a work environment filled with moments of pride, companionship and support. “Some of my favorite days are when I can assist on one of my father’s or brother’s surgeries, and have my sister
working as a circulating nurse on the same case,” explains Emily. “There’s something special about doing work that you love with the people you love.”
Dr. Robert McCoy agrees. “My kids have a goodness about them and a compassion toward others that make it a privilege to watch them succeed,” explains the father of six and grandfather of two. “Surgery can often be life-changing for patients and to share that experience with my children is a gift.”
When the McCoys gather for a family dinner, a compliment about a sibling may get shared, a success may be celebrated and some advice may be offered. But some things won’t need to be spoken: like the joy and value this family finds in elevating patients’ lives by following in the
steps of a previous generation.
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