Girls Inc. of Pinellas has named Dr. Teresa Bradley, president of St. Anthony’s Primary Care and St. Anthony’s Specialists Group, as STEM Woman of the Year.
The organization will honor Bradley at its annual STEM Celebration Luncheon at Feather Sound Country Club, 2201 Feather Sound Drive, Clearwater, on Friday, Sept. 27.
“She personifies a courageous scientific spirit and has embraced her leadership skills,” said Renee McInnis, CEO of Girls Inc. “Dr. Bradley recognized her talent in science and her gift for leadership and combined them to become a prominent force for good in Pinellas’ medical community. She is an excellent role model for our girls who are learning to explore their own scientific aptitude and developing their own strong leadership skills.”
Bradley grew up in Granstville, W.Va., at a time when women didn’t typically enter the field of medicine. Her mother realized that her father, a local attorney and World War II veteran, intended to send only her brothers to college and decided to take matters into her own hands – she took out a loan and opened a salon in the basement of their home. The profits from this salon paid for the college education of Bradley and her younger sister.
“My mother was bound and determined that we would go to college,” Bradley said. “All of my accomplishments are because of her willingness to sacrifice and her determination. My mother certainly was a great influence on me.”
Bradley attended West Virginia University, originally intending to study Spanish.
“I had this romantic dream of living in New York and being an interpreter for the (United Nations),” she said.
She quickly realized she was making better marks in biology than Spanish after her first semester. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1966 before moving on to West Virginia University’s medical school.
Her fellow medical students were predominantly men. But most of them seemed unperturbed by having a female peer.
“Some were after dates and others thought I was taking the place of their male buddies, but most of them were fine,” she said. “Many of them became good friends.”
After earning her medical degree, she headed to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas in 1971 to complete her internship.
In 1973, she and her first husband, Michael Bates, a Vietnam veteran, decided to backpack across the country with their young firstborn son, David.
This led the couple to Alaska, where they traveled along the Al-Can Highway by RV determined to homestead. But the day they arrived in Fairbanks, she said, they found the state was closed to homesteading.
Uncertain what their next step would be, they stopped at a local lodge. After talking with one of the lodge’s owners and other locals, she found they needed a doctor in the area. So she set up a local practice and was the only physician for 350 miles along the highway.
The couple built a cabin, where Bradley initially ran her practice before moving into the basement of a local church.
“I did it all,” she said, “Well, everything you could do without an imaging machine or X-rays. I learned to physically diagnose in ways physicians don’t normally learn.”
They lived in Alaska before moving “back to civilization,” Bradley said. They stayed married another three years before divorcing.
Following the divorce, Bradley moved back to West Virginia, where she met her second husband, Dr. Guy Bradley.
In 1981, she moved with her family to Florida, taking a position at the Largo Medical Center in the emergency department. She joined St. Anthony’s Hospital in 1992 as medical director of the emergency room. In 2003, she was named vice president of medical affairs, and in 2008, she stopped practicing clinically.
In 2012, she was named president of St. Anthony’s Primary Care and St. Anthony’s Specialists Group.
“In my current role, I help the 88 physicians we have in multiple specialties to grow in their practices and help them navigate life when they get out of school,” Bradley said.
Some of the new initiatives she developed as a leader at St. Anthony’s was a physician leadership council, the St. Anthony’s Primary Care Group and an inpatient diabetes education and treatment model. Bradley also worked on the team that brought robotic surgery and angioplasty to St. Anthony’s.
She also serves on the government affairs committee and the medical economics committee of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians and is a fellow at the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Bradley and her ex-husband, Guy Bradley, have five children.