Dr. Sandra Bruce Nichols


Arkansas Department of Health

Little Rock

Dr. Sandra Bruce Nichols

Overseeing the Arkansas Department of Health has been an ongoing ride for Dr. Sandra Bruce Nichols.

The 36-year-old was named executive director of the department by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker nearly seven months ago, yet her duties have remained non-stop.

Those include traveling to various parts of the state with the governor and trips to Washington, D.C., not to mention her shift into the post from her physician's job at Holly Grove Medical Center.

A devout Christian, Nichols credits her faith and her family as the backbone of her success, saying, "Christianity is a part of my everyday job as a physician."

She says her family was concerned about her new post because of some of the ill feelings left from her predecessor, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, now U.S. Surgeon General. But Nichols says Elders, known most for her bold stances on abortion rights and the distribution of contraceptives at school-based clinics, "is Dr. Elders and I am Dr. Nichols."

The Little Rock native will earn a $123,876 salary in her new post, but modestly admits she never wanted to become a doctor to make a lot of money. Nichols says adequate health care for all people is her first love and the driving force that makes her good at what she does.