Dr. John Thompson
Gaucho Gazette > October 2012 > Presidential Perspectives
Thompson Nominated Outstanding Alumni
GCC has nominated John Thompson for an American Association of Community Colleges’ Outstanding Alumni Award. Every year since 1982, AACC has bestowed the honor on individuals nominated by their community college who have excelled in their field and given back to their community. The awards will be presented at the AACC annual conference in April.
The following is the nomination information was written by Judy Sanchez, director of development and alumni relations.
John Thompson, DO is a true champion who never gave up, no matter the circumstances and followed his dreams that took him across the country and back. From the gridiron to the operating room, he became a gifted surgeon, renowned in his field and a favorite among his patients in the Valley of the Sun. Thompson grew up in Phoenix and dreamed of becoming a star athlete and a doctor.
When he became a student at Glendale Community College on an academic scholarship, he was set to play football. But, sidelined by an injury, Thompson continued his studies where his grades earned him membership to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. After a year, he decided to continue to pursue his football dreams. It would take three doctors and several treatments to correct his back problem and return him to the gridiron. Outsized and considered a “walk-on” player, he competed against 150 others looking for a position on the GCC football team. He made the team as a starting player.
During his second and final year at GCC, the Gauchos ascended to heights never before achieved by a football team in the school’s history. Entering the 1988 season, Glendale was unranked and not expected to contend for a title. However, the team claimed the league title, winning the Valley of the Sun Bowl and clinching a national title.
“John Thompson was a two-year starter and a leader on the team that went undefeated, won the NJCAA National Championship and was inducted into the NJCAA Football Hall of Fame,” said former football Coach Joe Kersting.
After graduating from GCC, John was recruited by several schools and chose Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas because it offered what he needed to achieve his dream of becoming a doctor: a 95 percent acceptance rate to medical school. At Bethany, Thompson continued to demonstrate his academic and leadership abilities by being inducted into the Honor Society, serving as senior class president, becoming a member of the blue-key club (elected position for top academic males demonstrating public service) and being named captain of the football team. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and was honored as an Academic All-American football player.
Thompson’s drive and determination continued as he pursued his Doctor of Osteopathy from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he was a presidential scholar and member of the Sigma Sigma Phi Osteopathic Honor Society, all while playing intramural sports and working part time. He chose to pursue orthopedic medicine after he shadowed one of the surgeons.
Thompson said, “The first orthopedic procedure I watched was a removal of a rod from the femur. The procedure used a slap hammer [car dent puller], screw drivers and a monkey wrench. I said to myself at that moment, ‘I can do that!’ From that moment forward, I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon.”
After losing a lottery for an intern position, he spent seven months living in an attic that was made into sleeping quarters for medical students. He juggled elective rotations in two cities and whenever possible drove 160 miles on the weekends to do rounds with orthopedic residents. After finishing his internship, Thompson studied to earn a high score in his competencies and received one of 48 coveted spots in orthopedic residency in the entire nation. He spent six months at No. 1 ranked Boston Children’s Hospital as a Harvard orthopedic resident and was appointed chief resident in his final year.
In 2004, Thompson returned to his home state where he joined The CORE Institute after building the busiest solo practice in Sun City. As an orthopedic surgeon, he specializes in total joint replacements of the hip and knee.
In addition, he is the medical director of the Joint Club at Sun Health Boswell Hospital. This nationally recognized program was selected from more than 250 centers of excellence for total joint arthroplasty to be on "Today in America" hosted by Terry Bradshaw. The Joint Club has saved the health care system millions of dollars because the program allows 95 percent of the patients to go home within three days. This has proven to be far better for the patient’s recovery and reduces the medical cost of a rehab facility, which often is greater than the entire cost of undergoing a total joint replacement.
Thompson’s reputation as an orthopedic surgeon is well known nationally in the medical community. He frequently has orthopedic surgeons from around the country come to watch him perform surgery, review practices and take the ideas back to their hospitals. The doctor is one of the few surgeons in the country to use computer-assisted navigation on primary and revision total knee and total hip arthroplasy. He lectures on this topic and has participated in more than 10,000 surgeries. He attends to 500 cases a year, the majority of which are hip and knee primary and revision surgeries.
“Seeing the smile on my patient’s face when the pain is gone is a reward I cannot see enough,” said Thompson.
In a recent Gallop poll, he ranked in the top 98 percent for orthopedic surgeons.
His philanthropic contributions to his community are evident in how he has given back to his alma mater and the community. As president of the GCC Alumni Association, he developed a fundraising campaign called “Building the Future.” The campaign generated 11 new scholarship endowments raising more than $100,000.
Thompson has been an active participant in making the Alumni Awards for Excellence Gala a success, raising over $140,000. He has supported many alumni activities through his attendance, financial support and leadership. Additionally, he served as team doctor for the GCC football team.
He received the GCC Outstanding Alumni award in 2009 and is recognized as a President’s Circle member on the Donor Wall of Recognition.
The inspirational impact he has made on others is one of being a true champion, whether on the playing field, in the classroom, in the operating room or in the community.
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