After graduation from Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) with a Bachelor of Science in biology, Pete DeBusk entered the health care industry. In 1973, he founded DeRoyal Industries, Inc. and today it is a world-wide manufacturer and distributor of hospital and outpatient medical products and devices in several distinct markets including surgical devices, unitized delivery systems, orthopedic bracing and wound care. DeRoyal was one of two companies to develop custom procedure trays (CPTs) that save time during surgical procedures by up to 40 percent. DeBusk was awarded a patent for a product named TraceCart™ and contributed to the invention of the EZ Walk Cast Boot. At DeRoyal, DeBusk oversaw the acquisition of Three D Orthopedics, Inc. in Dallas, TX, and some 41 other medical companies. He still serves as chairman today.
More than twenty years ago, DeBusk began to discuss his belief in the need for more primary care physicians in East Tennessee and surrounding areas. He concluded that the best way to see that goal realized was to start a new medical school at LMU—an unlikely location given the school’s liberal arts focus and its rural location. Serving as chairman of the board at LMU since 2000, DeBusk has been the driving force in its evolution from a small well-respected but little-known school to a well-equipped, thriving institution with outsized impact in the region.
In the last 14 years, under DeBusk’s leadership, LMU has successfully launched the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, a nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant program, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine School, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Occupational Therapy and Doctor of Physical Therapy. These schools are focused on producing graduates dedicated to serving Appalachia, the part of the country at the center of DeBusk’s interests and energy.
In addition to the immeasurable impact that LMU graduates have on the lives of patients, DeBusk’s efforts have also been deployed on a larger geographic scale. He served on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) from 2000–2006, advising Congress on a myriad of issues related to Medicare covered services and reimbursements. He worked with The Wound Healing Foundation, The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) and Joint Commission to develop new wound care standards for Medicare.
Finally, DeBusk has made meaningful contributions to many people through his philanthropic initiatives, foremost of which was founding the DeBusk Family Boys and Girls Club. DeRoyal and DeBusk have received many honors, including Philanthropist of the Year, Knoxville Healthcare Heroes, The Hammer Award from the Department of Defense, Entrepreneur of the Year and many others.