Everyone has someone in their life who inspires them in a big way, whether they realize it or not. For Marc Watkins M.D., chief medical officer for Kroger Health, that person is clear and it’s childhood pediatrician Dr. Seymour Charles.

Affectionately known to many as “Doc,” I credit my career choice to the kind, innovative and inspiring man Dr. Charles was. As a child, he told me I could do anything I wanted to do, and later, when I was planning my future, if I went to medical school he would pay for it. From that moment, I decided he was going to do just that!

 

After completing my pre-med degree and getting accepted to medical school, I called my pediatrician’s office and made an appointment – mind you, I’m 20-something at this time. The scheduler questioned my need to see a pediatrician as an adult, but after some convincing an appointment was made. Along with my mom (yes, I took my mom!) I went in for my appointment and told Dr. Charles the good news. Living up to his promise, Dr. Charles pulled out his checkbook. But I had more good news – I was accepted to med school on a scholarship through the U.S. Navy.

 

I am now proudly a residency trained, board certified occupational & environmental physician with a master’s in public health. I spent the past 16 years in the medical profession, including eight years in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant commander, group surgeon and senior medical officer. I joined Kroger in 2015.

 

I met my wife, DeAnn, in Med school and as an emergency medical physician herself, she couldn’t understand why I would want to work for Kroger. “Why not be a regular doctor?” she asked.

 

It wasn’t hard to explain. The two of us had made a pact early in our relationship that we were going to help change the way health care is accessed and delivered to patients, and where better to do that than Kroger? With 220+ clinics seeing more than 1.3 million patients in nine states and 2,200+ pharmacies across 38 states writing more than 190 million scripts per year, Kroger gets to meet patients where they are.

 

Never did I imagine that as a physician I would work for a grocery store, but I feel very fortunate. Working for Kroger has afforded me the opportunity to directly influence the way patients receive care, and I challenge our clinical team to operate at the top of their license and provide an exceptional experience for all – customers, colleagues and the company. The same as Dr. Charles did for me and living up to the pact that DeAnn and I made early in our medical careers.

 

As physician executive, I provide support to several areas of the Kroger business including our pharmacies, clinics, associate health care plan, data insights and much more. My focus is on ensuring that as a team, we live up to our promise of helping people live healthier lives. Safety and quality are the guardrails in which we operate between, and being a trusted healthcare destination that connects with customers on an emotional level is who we are.

 

When I’m not at work I spend time as an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Pharmacy and Meharry Medical College in Nashville. If I’m not there, you can find me on the golf course or spending time with my wife, our six nephews and two cats.

 

I’m Dr. Marc Watkins M.D. and I’m Kroger’s Chief Medical Officer.