JEAN D. KEMP, MD
Staff Pathologist, Dominion Pathology Laboratories
Dr. Jean Kemp’s time in the military began as a college freshman on a Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. To her great surprise, her military service continued for nearly a quarter-century more.
The Navy provided Dr. Kemp with money for college and medical school, her post-graduate specialty training, and her first professional positions, each experience full of leadership and research opportunities.
“It’s such a unique way to enter into medicine,” she says. “You feel like part of something bigger than yourself, and there’s an added layer of reward in taking care of people who are serving our country. It’s an honor, and it really helped shape who I am.”
Dr. Kemp spent 10 of her 14 years on active duty at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (formerly Bethesda Naval Hospital) in Bethesda, Md., followed by four years at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP). A dermatopathology specialist, she joined Dominion Pathology Laboratories in 2020.
As a Naval officer, Dr. Kemp won multiple service awards, contributed to articles in several dermatology journals and spoke at major conferences, such as a 2016 presentation titled “Metastatic Ovarian Carcinoma Disguised as Inflammatory Breast Cancer” at the International Society of Dermatopathology Conference.
“I had great training and wonderful experiences in the military,” she says. “I also can’t say enough about the quality and commitment of the people I met.”
A Kansas native, Dr. Kemp decided to be a doctor in the fifth grade when she broke an ankle during gymnastics and went to a sports medicine clinic. She spent a semester shadowing a family practice physician as a high school senior.
Both of Dr. Kemp’s grandfathers were proud military veterans, one Army and one Navy, and she credits her ROTC scholarship at Vanderbilt University with helping her stay disciplined as she earned a biology degree. “Everything had to be on point for inspections, and you couldn’t let your grades slip,” she relates.
ROTC students also spent a month working on Navy ships each summer, giving Dr. Kemp a glimpse into the demands of military life outside medicine. Those insights would later help her treat young sailors, despite never being deployed herself.
Dr. Kemp attended Vanderbilt University School of Medicine as part of the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). She completed her internship at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, followed by a residency in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology and a fellowship in Dermatopathology at the National Capital Consortium.
From 2011 to 2015, Dr. Kemp served as a Staff Pathologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She was Associate Program Director for the Pathology residency, a Pathology Core Teaching Faculty and Medical Director for Laboratories of Naval Health Care New England.
Dr. Kemp next headed to NMCP, where she was Department Head for Anatomic Pathology, Medical Director of the laboratories of Boone Triad Branch Health Clinics, and Education Coordinator for the Pathology Department.
Today, Dr. Kemp and her three partners at Dominion Pathology Laboratories provide diagnostic services for area dermatologists and plastic surgeons, as well as other providers performing office-based procedures, such as family practice physicians, ophthalmologists and gastroenterologists.
Dr. Kemp and her husband, Sentara cardiothoracic surgeon Clinton Kemp, MD, have two children, ages 11 and 14, plus two cats. She enjoys playing tennis, reading, and teaching pathology to Eastern Virginia Medical School students whenever she gets the opportunity.
Looking back, Dr. Kemp feels only gratitude for the Navy: “I knew it would be an interesting short-term experience no matter what. I just never thought it would turn into so much more. The Navy provided me with opportunities for travel, friendship, leadership and education. Most of all, I feel proud that I was able to make a difference.”