Dr. Alonzo Williams has served as the medical director for Arkansas Diagnostic Center in Little Rock for more than 25 years. Throughout that time, he has been diligent in pursuing the latest gastroenterology research and techniques in order to ensure excellent care for every patient.
Williams serves as a gastroenterology consultant for hospitals throughout Little Rock. Since 1984, he has been affiliated with major health care systems such as Baptist Health, CHI St. Vincent, UAMS, and of course, Arkansas Diagnostic Center and Kanis Endoscopy Center. He is also an active member of a number of prominent professional organizations including the Arkansas State Medical Board, where he was appointed by three governors for a total of 24 consecutive years.
“I believe that my empathetic personality and willingness to work with many physicians presenting to that board helped save medical licenses,” he said.
And while all of this certainly merits praise, it is Williams’ story of how he came to be successful in his field that is most impressive.
A native of West Helena, Arkansas, Williams grew up during a time when it was rare to see an African American physician around town.
“My hometown of West Helena was fortunate enough to have Dr. Robert Miller,” Williams said. “He was my first role model in the realm of professionals and my desire to become a doctor.”
Although Dr. Miller was his first role model, it is Williams’ father who holds the title of the person he admires most.
“The person I admire most is the person who raised me, loved me and taught me to be a man. That is my father, John Henry Williams.
He dropped out of elementary school to help his parents make a living. He couldn’t read and became blind when I was a young man. In spite of these deficiencies, he built his own home, ran many businesses, drove a bus to the cotton fields near Helena, owned a grocery store and insisted all of his children attend and graduate from college. All of us did graduate, with bachelor’s, master’s, PhD’s – and I graduated with an M.D. I truly admire this man.”
As a young adult, Williams earned medical degrees from Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, where he is now a clinical instructor. While attending UAMS, he developed a mentee/mentor relationship with one of his professors, a gastroenterologist named Dr. Clinton Texter.
“Being selected into the GI program was a coveted spot,” Williams explained. “In spite of a lot of opposition, Dr. Texter went to bat for me, and I was accepted into the program.
He has since passed away, but I have always kept a framed picture of him placed prominently on my office desk.”
Empowered by Texter’s support, and with a kit packed with GI knowledge, Williams built and opened the first surgery center specializing in gastroenterology in the state of Arkansas in 1989. The center allowed Williams to provide a place where his community felt comfortable visiting and where he could freely educate patients on the importance of things like colorectal cancer screening.
“Awareness, education and early detection has saved countless lives,” he said.
Owning his own business also opened the door for Williams to develop an outreach campaign through radio, television, health fairs and frequent guest speaking in churches throughout Arkansas.
And fortunately for Dr. Williams, and his patients, it’s a door that he leaves open.
In the future, he plans to continue to save lives through educating, screening for early detection and resection and promoting good health, he says, and continue to encourage and mentor students and physicians in the field of medicine, particularly gastroenterology.
“I want people to know how much I care for and give back to my community. How I set goals and worked diligently to achieve them. How I made a difference in the lives of my family, the youth and people in need. And how I turned to God when met with adversity.”