Member Spotlight

AACA Featured Member

R. Benton Adkins, Jr., MD, FACS

1933 - 2003

Dr. Benton Adkins, Jr., is featured in our current Member Spotlight as one of the original 18 individuals who met in February 1983 to found the American Association of Clinical Anatomists. His extraordinary service and dedication to help lead and promote AACA for 20 years, until his passing, led our organization in 2003 to honor his memory by creating the R. Benton Adkins, Jr. Distinguished Service Award. (Create link to R Benton Adkins Award page on website so reader may see winners of this award) This periodic award to a member is given to recognize long-term extraordinary service to AACA, a bar that was set high by Benton Adkins.  The award will be given again at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis.

Although Benton Adkins, Jr., projected a warm, folksy persona, he was recognized as a strong leader among physicians, an effective commanding medical officer in the US Air Force Reserve, an outstanding faculty member of Vanderbilt University, a loyal friend, and dedicated family man. Benton was born in 1933 at Clarksville, TN. He was graduated from Austin Peay State College in 1954, and then enrolled at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he was to spend almost his entire career. After surgical training Dr. Adkins joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an Assistant Professor of Surgery in 1966, became an Assistant Professor of Anatomy in 1967, and was certified by both the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. Benton Adkins was a true clinical anatomist and taught anatomy to first and fourth year medical students as he rose through the ranks to Professor of Surgery and Anatomy in 1985. He continued to promote clinical anatomy as he helped train more than 250 surgical residents and served as Surgeon-in-Chief of the Metropolitan Nashville General Hospital. Dr. Adkins became Professor Emeritus in 2002.

In addition to his academic career Dr. Adkins was also a leader in professional societies and military service. He was an active member of over 40 medical societies and served a leadership role in some of these. He served on the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons and was President of the Tennessee Medical Association, the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and the Nashville Academy of Medicine. Benton Adkins served 30 years in the US Air Force Reserve and was commanding officer of the 118th TAC Hospital from 1984 to his retirement.  It was during this time that he was called to active duty during the Persian Gulf War (Desert Storm, 1990-1991). Col. Adkins also served as Tennessee State Air Surgeon from 1991–1993. 

Benton Adkins also dedicated his considerable academic, clinical, and professional talents to promote the interdependence of anatomy and surgery in the medical curriculum. It was this strong belief that caused him to gather with Drs. Ralph Ger, Oliver Beahrs and a few others to found the AACA in 1983. In addition to innumerable hours of service and promotion activities to grow our organization, Dr. Adkins served on Council, chaired the Membership and Journal Committees, hosted the National Meetings in 1989 and 2001, and was elected Vice-President, President-Elect and President.  It is truly recognition of a member’s service accomplishment to AACA to be given the Benton Adkins, Jr. Distinguished Service Award, which honors one of the leading founders of AACA.