2017 Distinguished Service Award recipient

Frederick D Burroughs

When Dr. Frederick Burroughs opened his practice in Southeast Raleigh in the late 1960s, he became Wake County’s first board certified pediatrician. Although he is proud of this distinction, it does not come close to defining his decades-long career in medicine.

Dr. Burroughs full impact can be seen in the former patients who drove great distances so that their own children could be cared for by him. It can be heard in the way the students he trained as an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Medicine speak of him, even decades later. “He was truly an extraordinary physician; he wanted his patients to receive great care and he did everything he could to make sure that occurred,” said Alan Stiles, MD, Brewer Distinguished Professor at UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care’s Vice President for Network Development and System Affiliation. In the late 1970s, he was one of many UNC medical students and residents mentored by Burroughs at his Raleigh practice.

So, yes, Dr. Burroughs was the first African-American pediatrician in Raleigh. However, for several decades, he was also one of the best and most respected physicians in the Triangle and across the state.

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Burroughs attended Hampton University in Virginia. Upon graduation, he was drafted into the Army. Once his service was completed, he fulfilled his dream to go to medical school. Burroughs attended Meharry Medical College, at the time one of the most prominent medical schools for African-American students. After finishing his residency training, he and his young family moved to Raleigh in 1969.

Early on, Dr. Burroughs made a commitment to care for his patients, no matter where they came from or what they had. While he was building his own practice, he was also recruiting more African- American physicians to the area and lobbying to make it easier for them to practice. Along with several of these physicians, Dr. Burroughs opened Sunnybrook Medical Center, a standalone facility offering multiple specialty services, which was open for 27 years. In 1977, Dr. Burroughs joined the Rex Hospital medical staff, becoming the hospital’s first African-American physician. He maintained this affiliation with Rex throughout his career.

In addition to his own work, Burroughs was a dedicated teacher and mentor to generations of medical students from UNC who trained with him on clinical rotations. Dr. Julie Byerley, Vice Dean for Education, learned from Burroughs during her residency at UNC. “He showed us the way that doctors should build trust with families,” Byerley said. “Every one of his patients felt like he was there to care just for them.”

Dr. Alan Stiles said he remembers working closely with Burroughs as both a medical student and a resident. “We rotated with several physicians and saw a lot of practices, and I’m quite sure that if Fred had chosen to, he could have practiced in a very different way, but he didn’t. We all knew that as trainees and we all admired him for it,” Stiles said.

Though he officially retired in 2011, Dr. Burroughs’ legacy is evident to the families he cared for and the physicians he helped to train.

In recognition of his decades of compassionate care and mentorship to generations of UNC medical students, we are proud to present the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Frederick D. Burroughs.