Dr. Lloyd Hunter
Omaha native Dr. Lloyd T. Hunter is a 1962 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine. Dr. Hunter was one of two African American men to graduate that year. Now retired, Dr. Hunter practiced pediatric medicine in Los Angeles, California. His father, Lloyd Hunter, Sr., is a significant figure in Omaha’s African American history. Mr. Hunter was the bandleader for the Lloyd Hunter’s Serenaders, an African American territory band popular from the 1920s through the big band era. Music legends like Preston Love and Jonny Otis started their careers playing in bands led by Lloyd Hunter, Sr. In April of 2021, Emily Brush, JD., on behalf of the McGoogan Health Sciences Library, interviewed Dr. Lloyd Hunter by phone. The following information is taken from Ms. Brush and Dr. Hunter’s conversation.
Path to A Career in Medicine
Dr. Hunter was the first person in his family to attend medical school. Dr. Hunter was raised in Omaha’s Near North Side, a historically African American neighborhood. Dr. Hunter attended Lothrop Elementary and Technical High School in Omaha. Growing up, Dr. Hunter was always interested in being a doctor. He vividly remembers visits with a physician when he was a young boy sick with diphtheria. After graduating high school, Dr. Hunter attended Nebraska Wesleyan for one year and then transferred to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In college, he started out as a liberal arts student, majoring in biology, but switched to pre-med.
Dr. Hunter’s Medical School Experience
Dr. Hunter applied and was accepted into the University of Nebraska College of Medicine (“UNMC”). Dr. Hunter enjoyed the study of medicine. He warmly recalled, “It was illuminating! A wonderful situation.” Dr. Hunter said he, “found his calling in medicine.” He liked all his classes and did well academically. “I studied a great amount at the library. I discovered the library my junior year of college.”
Dr. Hunter had a wonderful study group in medical school, consisting of “four Nebraskans.” He feels fortunate to have studied with Gary Prohaska, MD ‘62, Richard “Dick” Maxwell, MD ‘62 and Jerry Smith MD, ‘62. “We stayed in touch, until they started passing,” he said. The mentorship of Thomas Beck, III MD ’61, an African American student hailing from Texas, played an important role in Dr. Hunter’s success. Dr. Hunter said Dr. Beck was, to him, “The most helpful person at UNMC.”
Dr. Hunter feels he received good support from UNMC with regards to academics. He never believed that due to his race, “his potential was limited” by the University. He added, “Facilities were good. Great library. Great, approachable faculty.”
Connection Between Athletics and the Study of Medicine
Dr. Hunter believes that his time as an athlete in high school and college helped prepare him for the rigors of medical school. Dr. Hunter said, “Athletics was very akin to studying for medical school…both require preparation and conditioning.” While he was an all-around strong athlete in his youth, track and field was his best sport. For Dr. Hunter, the examination experience in medical school was like the psychological component of a sports game or competition; in both, you had to be competitive and perform well under stress. “Medicine is a peculiar discipline, and you can’t give in. It is like a marathon.”
Dr. Hunter’s Social Experience as an African American Medical Student in the 1960s
UNMC had medical fraternities near campus, but they specifically prohibited African Americans from joining. A student’s inability to participate in the fraternities had consequences. “The fraternities got preferential treatment, and everyone else was on their own.” Dr. Hunter lived at home in medical school, with his family at 2926 North 25th Street.
There were no student groups for the African American students while Dr. Hunter was at UNMC. Discussing African American students at the Nebraska Medical College, Dr. Hunter said, “We sort of weren’t well represented.”
Residency and Practice in California
After graduating from UNMC in 1962, Dr. Hunter took his residency in pediatrics at the University of Southern California. At the time Dr. Hunter was selecting a residency program, pediatrics was, “very exciting because there were so many new treatment modes.” For example, neonatology was a developing field as was the treatment of pediatric infectious diseases, particularly of the central nervous systems. Dr. Hunter liked that in pediatrics, “kids get well.” Through intervention, he could, “actually change the course of patients’ lives.” Moreover, Dr. Hunter had always enjoyed interacting with kids. He remembers how much, as a young man, he loved his job working with youth at the local YMCA. After residency, Dr. Hunter made a smooth transition into the practice of pediatric medicine in Los Angeles, California. He feels fortunate that his career included both academic medicine and private practice.
- Emily Brush, JD