Born in Auburn Alabama in 1958, Claude Brunson was raised in a town with a long history of racial segregation in public accommodations and education. Recalling his grandmother’s history, he notes that during her adolescence, blacks were not allowed to attend medical school in the state. Yet on August 17, 2013, Dr. Claude Brunson became the first African-American President–elect of the Mississippi State Medical Association, which means he is slated to become president of the Association one year from that date.
Brunson graduated from Auburn High School and spent one year at Auburn University (1976-1977). He joined the United States Navy, where he became a hospital corpsman. The Navy gave him the opportunity to spend four years doing health-associated work, including performing medical inspections. Brunson credits his naval experience with inspiring him to pursue a career in medicine. Prior to his enlistment, he had never met an African American physician.
Brunson left the navy in 1981 and returned home to complete a pre-medicine degree, as well as a master’s degree from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Upon completion of medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1987, Brunson satisfied an internal medicine internship at the Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham. During his residency at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham, Brunson operated as its chief resident.
In 1991, Brunson moved to Jackson, Mississippi to become a member of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) faculty. He remains on that faculty at that institution. He also currently serves as a professor of anesthesiology at UMMC and is the institution’s senior advisor to the vice chancellor for external affairs. Brunson is the state director of the Mississippi Society of Anesthesiologists and an advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Brunson was the first African American chief of staff at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Previously, he held the presidency of the Mississippi Medical and Surgical Association.
In 2012, Brunson was a recipient of the Martha Myers Role Model Award, an award given to University of Alabama Medical School alumni as an inspiration to current scholars.
Currently, Brunson is obtaining his Ph.D. in health services research and health systems administration. On August 1, 2014 Dr. Claude Brunson will make history becoming the first African American president of the 4,600 member Mississippi Medical Association.