Andrea Friall, MD: Recipient of the 2023 Thomas L. Hicks, MD Outstanding Physician Award
By Shannon Boyle, Capital Medical Society Communications and Events Coordinator | Updated Mar. 9, 2023
The Capital Medical Society is pleased to announce Andrea Friall, MD, as the recipient of the 2023 Thomas L. Hicks, MD Outstanding Physician Award. This award honors a physician who has been a leader within the field of medicine and organized medicine while demonstrating clinical excellence and actively contributing to the education of future medical professionals.
Dr. Friall, an FMA member, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but raised in Casselberry, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. She was raised in a loving family by her father. Her formative years were shaped by the passing of her mother when Dr. Friall was only six years old. Her father prioritized a quality over quantity approach to family time and provided stability, support, and love. Dr. Friall affectionately shares, “My daddy showed me that all we really need is love.” The supportive village of her family, friends, and community began to shape the young girl into the woman she is today.
Dr. Friall’s path to medicine started with Girl Scouts of the USA. Her sister’s troop leader was a nurse. No one in her family was in the field of medicine. Dr. Friall was inquisitive and asked many questions about her profession and the practice of medicine. It was then, as a seventh grader, that Dr. Friall knew she wanted to become a doctor and deliver babies. Even though becoming a doctor felt like her path, she often fantasized, like all young girls, about becoming a model/singer like Whitney Houston or using science to develop a makeup for women of color. Without question, our community has greatly benefited from Dr. Friall’s decision to practice medicine.
When making the decision on where to complete her undergraduate studies, she was drawn to Florida State University (FSU), where her sister was already enrolled. Tallahassee is her father’s hometown, so she was already familiar with the city. In 1993, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from FSU. She went on to study at Howard University College of Medicine for her medical degree. While at Howard, Dr. Friall began working with patients with HIV/AIDS. During this time, healthcare providers were getting their first effective treatments for HIV-positive patients, and they were gaining a better understanding of the disease. She saw the full spectrum of life – people dying as well as moms bringing new life into the world. She also saw how science and hope in humanity make a difference. “Watching kids die of AIDS left an indelible imprint on my soul. Now we are able to counsel HIV-positive moms so that they can have a successful delivery of an unaffected child with proper treatment. Believing in the ways science and technology can bring about change and having hope in humanity are my ‘why’.” Dr. Friall earned her medical degree in 1997. She then completed an obstetrics and gynecology internship and residency at Tulane University School of Medicine, where she served as Administrative Chief Resident in her final year. She also earned numerous awards as a resident, including the Hiram W.K. Batson Award for Outstanding Residency Performance, and the Tulane Outstanding Teaching Award.
Upon completion of her internship and residency, her heart was calling her back to Tallahassee. She appreciates the small town feel, but it is large enough to offer many educational opportunities. The accessibility to legislators and policymakers provides her the opportunity to advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. In 2001, Arthur Clements, MD, recruited Dr. Friall to join North Florida Women’s Care as its first African American female obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN). She is grateful for his mentorship. Throughout her life, she has experienced many firsts as a woman of color. Growing up, her family was one of the first Black families in their neighborhood. She was one of the first Black cheerleaders on her high school squad. She became the first Black Homecoming Queen. “You must acknowledge the existence of racial disparities and inherent biases. Then, allow yourself to be open enough to recognize and respect someone’s talent and differences,” said Dr. Friall. “That is part of the journey.”
Dr. Friall has been instrumental in improving the care provided at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) and throughout the community. She has revamped the quality committees and related governance structure, introduced new technologies for improved communication between physicians and staff members, and continues to focus on supporting the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of our healthcare providers. Her previous roles within TMH include Medical Staff Chair, Medical Executive Committee member, Medical Staff Secretary/Treasurer, Credentials Committee Chair, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Chair.
In 2016, after delivering thousands of babies and performing hundreds of medical procedures, Dr. Friall accepted the esteemed position of Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at TMH. Another first – the first woman in this position. In order for her to continue her obstetrics and gynecology duties, her new role started as a part-time position. After weathering many storms, literally - Hurricane Matthew in 2016; Hurricane Irma in 2017; Hurricane Michael in 2018; and Tropical Storm Nestor in 2019, Dr. Friall closed the obstetrics arm of her practice to take on more administrative duties. She continues to practice gynecology and is grateful to provide quality gynecologic care to patients in our community.
In 2020, just as Dr. Friall was settling into her expanded administrative role at TMH, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. As an OB/GYN, she trained in crisis management and split second decision making, but this brought new challenges. While the world searched for answers, Dr. Friall joined healthcare personnel and community leaders in disseminating accurate and timely information to our community. She wrote informative articles and gave interviews for news outlets. She frequently recorded videos to share updates with the community. As TMH’s Chief Medical Officer, she created and updated COVID-19 policies and procedures, supported vaccination efforts, and assisted medical staff’s personal and professional needs. “She led by example,” said Faisal Munasifi, MD, recipient of the 2023 I.B. Harrison, MD Humanitarian Award. “Helping the medical community navigate the unknowns of COVID with poise, compassion, and sound medical judgment, all while advocating for physician wellness.”
In addition to her administrative and clinical responsibilities, Dr. Friall is a Clinical Associate Professor at the FSU College of Medicine OB/GYN Clerkship. In 2021, she served on the FSU Presidential Search Committee, and in 2022, she served on the FSU College of Medicine Dean Search Committee. She is active in medical organizations locally, regionally, and nationally. She is an active member of the National Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, and the William Gunn Medical Society. She has served as a board member of the American Red Cross, FSU Foundation, FSU College of Fine Arts, and Florida Obstetric and Gynecologic Society. She worked with the FSU Foundation to create a scholarship in her father’s name, which awards tuition assistance to first-generation medical students. Nationally, Dr. Friall is active as a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). She carved out time almost every year for the past 12 years to attend the ACOG Congressional Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. and the Florida Medical Association’s (FMA) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. In D.C., she meets with legislators to advocate for physicians, women, and healthcare. In Orlando, she attends the FMA House of Delegates sessions to advocate for the practice of medicine. “I honestly think I am able to practice medicine the way I do because I understand what I am fighting for on more than just the clinical level. My participation in the legislative process includes getting bills for expedited partner therapy passed, extending pregnancy Medicaid for one year postpartum, removing barriers to care, and other important maternal morbidity and mortality bills that translate into patient care.” She is currently serving as the Legislative Chair and Secretary of District XII for ACOG, where she has helped guide decisions that have positively affected the care delivered to women and children across the country. “I just like to participate in the process, know how the rules are written, and to be able to help make things better.”
She has received numerous awards, been recognized in publications, and is frequently called upon as a speaker. She received the Oasis Center for Women and Girls’ Trailblazer Award, the Capital Area Healthy Start Coalition’s Angel Award, the FSU Black Alumni Outstanding Alumni Award, and the Della Walker Chapter #86 Order of the Eastern Star Juneteenth Freedom Award. She was recognized as one of the honorees for the TCC Cherry Hall Alexander African American History Calendar and one of Tallahassee’s 25 Women You Need to Know. She was featured on the cover of the June/July 2020 Tallahassee Woman Magazine. In 2022, she was the commencement speaker for the FSU College of Arts and Sciences. She has been the keynote speaker at the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Forum, Tallahassee Community College Women’s History Celebration, and the W.E.B. DuBois Honor Society Dean’s List Celebration.
She is a loving wife to her husband, Eric, of almost 20 years. Their story began in the summer of 1989 at FSU. They shared common goals and a mutual respect for each other. Their attraction and admiration for one another developed into a lifelong friendship and commitment. “He has known 18-year-old me, 30-year-old me, 40-year-old me, and now 50-year-old me.” Eric serves as President/CEO of Simply eConnect, a telehealth/medical technology provider, and owner of the 9Round Kickboxing Fitness Center franchise in Tallahassee. They are proud parents to daughter, Camille. Camille is a junior at Leon High School and is active in Key Club, Student Government, ballet, and classical piano. Dr. Friall and Eric have always made it a priority to be involved in Camille’s life. “There are but so many hours in the day that our family is awake,” she said, “We have to make the most of them – make them as meaningful as possible.”
In those rare moments when Dr. Friall is not caring for patients, teaching, or attending Board or Committee meetings, she enjoys traveling, trips to Disney World, watching NCIS, spending time with family and friends, and exercising. Last year, one of Dr. Friall’s personal goals was to run a half marathon. In February, she accomplished her goal and completed her first half marathon.
Dr. Friall’s good friend, colleague, and recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Physician Award, Dean Watson, MD, described her best: “Dr. Friall continues to guide improvements in healthcare, volunteer locally, teach the future generation of physicians, provide superior clinical care, and help lead one of the largest healthcare organizations in the state of Florida. She is without a doubt an outstanding physician.”
The Capital Medical Society congratulates Dr. Andrea Friall. She exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding leader and physician.