Preston J. Phillips, MD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

Preston J. Phillips, MD, FAOA is being recognized as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for his leadership, mentoring, and lifelong contributions to orthopaedic surgery during his distinguished career. The champions for this effort on his behalf are Gary E. Friedlaender, MD, FAOA and Serena Hu, MD, FAOA.


Preston J. Phillips, MD, FAOA was a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon, mentor, diversity advocate, community leader and philanthropist, with a record of accomplishments that far exceeded expectations of his shortened life of 59 years. 

Born to a large family, then residing in Saginaw, Michigan and later moving during his childhood to Atlanta, Georgia, Preston chose a career in medicine and pleasure in his jazz saxophone while in high school.  His large 6-foot 5-inch stature and impressive athleticism would have augured pursuit of football at the time of his commitment to a career that would bring extraordinary clinical skill and compassion to the many patients he encountered during his clinical career.  While attending Emory University as an undergraduate, Preston majored in chemistry, organic chemistry and theology and, most importantly, met his future wife, Melody.  After Harvard Medical School, he accepted a general surgical residency at Yale New Haven Hospital, with an interest in cardiovascular disease.  Following a brief, but compelling letter to the Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Yale, Preston adjusted his life-long career focus on to orthopaedics and completed his residency training in New Haven.  He then completed his spine fellowship under the mentorship of Augustus A. White, III, MD, FAOA at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. 

After his formal training, Preston joined the Seattle Orthopaedic and Fracture Clinic and Swedish Hospital and, for most of his active career he was based at the St. Francis Health System in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  It was in this Hospital, delivering care, that he was one of four people shot and killed by a patient. 

Preston was not only aware of the world around him but was intensely engaged to changing things that concerned him and doing so in a productive manner.  He was particularly focused on opportunities to improve diversity of the orthopaedic work force and improving inequities of clinical care.  For example, during residency he founded the Yale Minority Medical Association and served as president.  Through the Light in the World Development Foundation, he regularly provided clinical care in Togo, Africa.  Preston established a scholarship fund within the Tulsa Community Foundation and was an active participant of the J. Robert Gladden Society and the Interurban Orthopaedic Society.  But perhaps his most exceptional contributions were of his character.  He was as warm, humble and generous of spirit as he was clinically skillful. 

The AOA acknowledges and appreciates Dr. Phillips’ contributions to the orthopaedic specialty, and proudly recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


Preston J. Phillips, MD, FAOA represents a pillar of strength of character, resolve and skill. By dint of his warm, compassionate, and uncompromising personality, Preston shared his resolve to provide outstanding clinical care to all in need, worldwide and in his community.  He saw inequities and sought to enhance diversity through education, participation and philanthropy.  He was as generous with his smiles and hugs as he was with his knowledge, skills and time.  Our tribute comes late and is inadequate but earned through example and effort.

Gary E. Friedlaender, MD, FAOA and Serena S. Hu, MD, FAOA
Dr. Phillips’s Co-Champions

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.