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COSAM supporter honored by Medical Association of the State of Alabama

Published: 06/22/2017

By: Lindsay Penny

Dr. Richard M. Freeman has received the 2017 Ira L. Myers Service Award from the Medical Association of the State of Alabama.

The Ira L. Myers Service Award is presented to members of the Medical Association who have served the medical profession faithfully and meritoriously during their lifetime. The award recognizes the work and efforts of Freeman in the medical profession and especially highlights the numerous contributions he has made to the Auburn-Opelika community.

Freeman grew up in Charlotte, N.C., and graduated with a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from North Carolina State University. He went on to work as an Aerospace Environmental Engineer in Tennessee for ARO, Inc. However, he realized his passion for medicine and decided to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Freeman completed his postgraduate medical education at Children’s Hospital of Alabama and the University of Alabama Hospitals and Clinics in Birmingham. After his time in Birmingham, he served as a medical officer at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., Department of Pediatrics. He left the Navy and came to Auburn where he established his own practice that served the Auburn-Opelika community for more than 30 years. He continues to serve the community at his practice, Pediatric Associates of Auburn.

Freeman has also served the Auburn Family by offering students from Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics shadowing opportunities. In 1977, Professor Frank Stevens in Auburn’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry asked Freeman to give a lecture to his pre-health sciences students. Following the lecture, Stevens made another request – would Freeman be willing to have students shadow him in his medical practice? Freeman agreed and for the last 34 years, Auburn students have received an up-close look at life as a physician in a private pediatric clinic.

“With the exception of when students are patients themselves, they really have no idea how the medical system works. Students who come to my office will see a variety of age groups and get a sense of what it’s really like to practice medicine,” Freeman said. “I personally felt medicine to be a vocation or calling and have always enjoyed helping people, and I enjoy working with the Auburn students.”

Although his specialty is pediatrics, Freeman administers to all age groups, from infants to adults, as he also specializes in aviation medicine for the Federal Aviation Administration where he is a designated medical examiner. Aviation medicine is a preventive or occupational medicine where the patients are pilots, aircrews or even astronauts. As a medical examiner in this field, the goal is to treat and prevent conditions that happen in air and to be a major part of a craft’s safety. Freeman also holds a commercial pilot certificate and was also a part-time flight instructor for Auburn University.

His contributions to Auburn’s College of Sciences and Mathematics are not only from his practice. Freeman and his wife established the COSAM Dr. and Mrs. Richard M. Freeman Annual Scholarship. He also assists with Auburn’s Rural Medicine Program, a jointly-sponsored program between the University of Alabama School of Medicine and Auburn University’s College of Sciences and Mathematics designed to increase the number of family-practice physicians serving rural Alabama. 

Outside of his efforts with the Auburn Family, Freeman has served as vice president, secretary-treasurer and delegate for the Board of Censors of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. He has served on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Board of Directors, as well as nine years on the Alabama State Board of Medical Examiners. He is also a past president and member of the Lee County Medical Society since 1975.

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