Dr. Sumner Abraham – Alumnus Spotlight
Chief Medical Operating Officer, Relias Healthcare
Adjunct Instructional Assistant Professor, UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College:
BA in Sociology, minor in Chemistry (2012)
MD in Medicine (2016)
Dr. Abraham is the Chief Medical Operating Officer at Relias Healthcare. Relias Healthcare was named by Inc. as No. 1939 on its 2022 Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in America. In addition, Relias Healthcare ranked No. 119 in the health services vertical and No. 3 in the state of Mississippi. Relias Healthcare is a multi-state healthcare solutions company with over 260+ providers and over 350,000 annual visits. Relias Healthcare provides hospitals with a wide portfolio of management and staffing solutions within the acute care setting of both tertiary referral centers and rural community hospitals. Dr. Abraham has a clinical faculty appointment as core faculty member at Baptist Oxford’s Internal Medicine residency program, an academic faculty appointment with the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at UM, is medical director for Enhabit Hospice in Oxford, and serves as a physician consultant for Medical Marketing and Economics an Indegene Company. Dr. Abraham, his wife Sarah, and their 3 children are thankful to call Oxford and Ole Miss home.
Why and when did you decide to study sociology?
I am forever indebted to the professors who taught Sociology during my years at Ole Miss. There were several friends that were upper classmen who had taken classes taught by Ross Haenfler. When I was a freshman, the Honors College provided faculty that pushed me to expand my horizons and chart my own way. During this same year, Ole Miss hosted one of the Presidential Debates between President Obama and Senator McCain and Dr. Haenfler taught a Political Sociology class after President Obama was elected. I took this course and I was hooked. I changed my major after 1 week of this class and never looked back.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments or favorite memories at UM?
The mentors I had while at Ole Miss propelled me make the most of my time, and my experience at the University has given me tools and skills to excel in my current work. While there are academic accomplishments that came as a product of hard work, life is about relationships and Ole Miss is unique in its ability to teach this to students inside and outside of the classroom. I am the most proud of using my time as an undergraduate to value mentorship (Deborah Young and Dru Ashoo in Honors College, John Green and Ross Haenfler in Sociology, Sparky Reardon in Dean of Students Office, Sheila Dossett at Alumni Association) and to take advantage of the innumerable benefits of a liberal arts education.
Please tell us about your educational and career path since graduation.
I have been fortunate to have mentors and friends who have modeled for me to pursue what you are passionate about and figure out a way to fit this into your work. Whether teaching at Ole Miss, working at UVA in Darden Business School’s collaboration with UVA Health system on principles of finance in healthcare, or pursuing development with my brother-in-law in the LOU community, pursuing what I am passionate about, doing things I desire rather than what is expected, has proven to be valuable advice that has certainly shaped my career path to date.
What is the value of studying sociology?
Human social relationships are core to every aspect of life, and studying sociology gives one a powerful lens to view and understand life and the world. The ability to evaluate differences in social behavior, reasons for differentials in various demographic and ethnic opportunities and outcomes, and the relevance of social hierarchies and power in every day life is applicable to every single job, industry, and vocation. Our current culture is fractured and tense, and understanding how to not only navigate our times, but also imagine a better way is central to the various frameworks one can learn and apply with a degree in sociology. My education has allowed me to be a better physician, entrepreneur, husband, father, and citizen. I would be glad to have a conversation with any prospective student to encourage them to choose sociology as their major.