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Northark honors surgeon as Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Andrew Coble, our 2013 Distinguished AlumnusDr. Andrew Coble, general surgeon at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center has been selected as North Arkansas College’s 2013 Distinguished Alumnus in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in the field of medicine.

A 1989 graduate of Harrison High School, Coble earned his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.  He went on to complete a five-year Surgical Residency at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, GA, serving as a 5th year Administrative Chief Resident.

His accomplishments include being selected as the 2002 Arkansas Paramedic of the Year; 1st place Arkansas State Paramedic Competition in 1995, 1996 and 2000; membership in the American College of Surgeons; North Arkansas College EMS Advisory Board, 1995-2002; 2008 Memorial University Medical Center Resident of the Year; 2010-2011 MHUMC/Mercer University Teaching Award; MHUMC/Mercer University Overall Outstanding Resident Award, 2011 and 2012 and the 2011 and 2012 MHUMC/Mercer University Humanism in Medicine and Excellence in Teaching, Arnold P. Gold Award.

Coble grew up on Gaither Mountain and attended school at Forest Heights Elementary.  He says, “I lived on a farm and spent my days hiking around caves and streams, cutting wood, and hauling hay.  I feel really blessed to have grown up that way.”  

Like many other graduates, he attended a university right out of high school.  After two semesters, he realized that wasn’t where he wanted to be.  “I wanted to try something different.  

I moved back to Harrison and married my wife, Elizabeth. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, although I wanted to be in medicine.  I was nineteen and looking for excitement.  Emergency Medical Technology seemed a way to get into medicine and have intrigue and excitement at the same time.”

In 1992 Northark was leading the region in paramedic training.  Wanting to take classes close to home, he enrolled in the paramedic program.  One of his most memorable instructors was Dr. Clark Jenkins.  “He was a fantastic instructor and he always was a big encouragement to everybody.  He gave us names of people at the University who would help us with our work.  He was a great guy all around,” Andrew says.

“As I progressed through the various levels of EMT, I loved all of them.”  Coble reflects.  “I wanted NARMC to be the best in the state.”  He was proud of his work, but it limited him, saying “No matter how much you train or how good you are, there is only so much they are ever going to let a pre-hospital provider do on their own.  My wife and I always had a lingering conversation about whether I should go to medical school and the answer was always no.  That changed around 1999.  I felt there was more I could do with the skill set I had been given. My other options were to teach or become an administrator. I wanted to do things myself, not tell others how to do it.”

In July of 2012 after completing his education, Dr. Coble returned home to Harrison and joined the medical staff at NARMC as a general surgeon.  Coble is proud of the premier education he received at Northark and is honored to have received the Distinguished Alumnus award.  He was recognized last week at the annual Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges conference in Hot Springs.

Dr. Coble is married to Elizabeth and they enjoy two children; Shayla and Andrew.