An Arkansas native, Dr. Henry Foster graduated valedictorian of his high school class, earned a BS from Morehouse College in Atlanta and received his M.D. from the University of Arkansas in 1958 where he was the only African American admitted in his class of 96. Because of his strong academic performance, he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha national honor society. Dr. Foster served as a Medical Officer, USAF from 1959–1961 and went on to complete his residency trainings in surgery in Massachusetts and obstetrics and gynecology at Meharry.
From 1965–1973, Dr. Foster served as Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology for Tuskegee Institute’s John Andrew Hospital. Despite being the only OBGYN in a seven county area, Dr. Foster and his team delivered more than 17,000 babies and performed more than 1,200 major surgical procedures for this underserved population. In 1973, Dr. Foster moved to Nashville and began his long-time career holding academic appointments at Meharry and Vanderbilt.
With a career dedicated to women’s health and the improvement of care, Dr. Foster has served on countless boards, teams and task forces where he continues to actively advocate for patient rights. His staunch commitment to health care led to his induction into the National Academy of Medicine (formally the Institute of Medicine) as one of its youngest members.
Dr. Foster founded and directed Meharry’s “I Have a Future Program,” an initiative that effectively reduced teen pregnancy among inner city Nashville youth. The program was accorded one of the nation’s Thousand Points of Light Awards by President George H. W. Bush. In 1993, the University of Arkansas awarded him his first honorary doctorate degree, the first of many, and in 1995, President Bill Clinton chose Dr. Foster as his nominee for U.S. Surgeon General.
A decorated clinician, enthusiastic public servant and dedicated educator, Dr. Henry Foster is a 2016 inductee of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.