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James Laughlin, MD, volunteer efforts improve health and medical education in Bloomington

Laughlin - Photo courtesy of Riley Children's Hospital

Photo courtesy of Riley Children's Hospital

By Sarah Tieman, MD, and Nikki Livingston

James J. Laughlin, MD, is a pediatrician in Bloomington, Indiana, who provides comprehensive health care for children and young adults and strives to improve community health. As an adjunct clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, he is committed to giving medical students the best educational experience possible.

"I became a pediatrician after being inspired as a child by my family doctor. I always aspired to be like him. I love taking care of kids and children's illnesses," said Laughlin.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, he moved to Indiana at age 11. He went on to graduate from IU School of Medicine in 1977. Laughlin completed medical training in 1981, after finishing a pediatrics residency followed by a pediatric pulmonary fellowship at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis.

In 1995, Laughlin, Richard K. Malone, MD, and Debra K. McDaniel, MD, began a pediatric practice that is now part of the Bloomington IU Health Riley Physicians group. They set out on a mission to launch a practice that was open 365 days a year with built-in urgent care. Today, this practice is a leader in pediatric care and earned the National Practice of the Year award in 2005.

Laughlin is committed to providing the best medical education experience and, as Chief Practice Officer of IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians (SIP), has increased the expectations for teaching within the practice. In 2019, he received the IU Trustee's Teaching Award, and in 2020, he received the IU School of Medicine Volunteer Faculty Teaching Award. 

Laughlin and his wife, Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, MD, launched two scholarships to support local medical students and public health master's students. Additionally, he has been instrumental in recruiting students to practice in Bloomington; many of his current partners were former IU School of Medicine-Bloomington medical students.  
One student commented, "He is the best preceptor. I felt like a real doctor when I was working with him! He would implement my plans and always have patients I had seen follow up at the same time I was in the office so I could establish a relationship with them."

He is active in IU Health Bloomington Hospital Medical Staff leadership and is a past chief of the medical staff and a current member of the IU Health South Central Regional Board of Directors. He is a member of multiple medical societies and recently served on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Committee of Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, which sets policy for pediatric practice. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Chest Physicians and a member of the American Thoracic Society. 

Laughlin is passionate about caring for kids with asthma and other respiratory conditions. His work resulted in Monroe County reporting the lowest rate of asthma hospitalizations in the state among 5-to-17-year-olds between 2007 and 2011. His drive for community care and health promotion motivated him to volunteer on the Monroe County Community School Corporation Health Wellness Committee. This school year, he has guided regional school corporations during the COVID pandemic as a medical consultant.

"Dr. Laughlin has always kept the patient first throughout his career. He has never lost sight of why he went into medicine. Dr. Laughlin is an active member of the community and understands the value of community partners and the need for strong public health programs," said colleague Brechin Newby, MD.

Laughlin led local clinical research efforts in the American Academy of Pediatrics CEASE study for smoking cessation and is involved in an ongoing collaborative study of body mass index (BMI) trends and adolescent health screening, partnering with IU School of Public Health. In 2017, he was honored by IU School of Public Health-Bloomington Dean Emeritus, Mohammad Torabi, with the Founding Dean's Medallion.

"The scope and influence of Dr. Laughlin's work on behalf of children in our community is tremendous. The health of the children in our community is better because of Dr. Laughlin's expertise and dedication to taking good care of kids," said Torabi.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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Nikki Livingston

Communications Specialist

Nikki Livingston is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity. She earned a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Drama at Spelman College. Nikki's unique background in graphic design, copywriting, project management, and digital marketing enables her to support communication efforts through a wide variety of mediums. She is passionate about mission-driven storytelling and helping organizations connect with their communities.