Mark Akins, MD

Mark Akins, MD, FACS

College: Auburn University

Medical School: Emory University

Residency: University of Tennessee, Memphis

Memberships: American College of Surgeons, American Society of Breast Surgeons, Southeastern Surgical Congress, Harwell Wilson Surgical Society

Dr. Akins is board certified in General Surgery and has practiced in Murfreesboro since 1995. He has served in a variety of leadership positions, including Chief of Surgery at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital and StoneCrest Medical Center and President of the Stones River Medical Society.

Dr. Akins has a wide range of surgical interest and expertise. He has a special interest in breast cancer treatment and has developed expertise in breast surgery techniques through additional specialized education. He is the only surgeon in the area certified in the Hidden Scar Technique. The scar is placed in an area hard to see, leaving the patient with little to no visible reminder of the surgery or their breast cancer. Click here to learn more about the Hidden Scar technique. He also employs oncoplastic techniques in which breast tissue is mobilized to fill in the defect left by lumpectomy leading to a superior cosmetic result. Dr. Akins works closely with Dr. Nicholas Tarola, a plastic surgeon, to provide nipple sparing mastectomy and other forms of breast reconstruction following mastectomy.

Dr. Akins also has expertise in minimally invasive treatment of benign and malignant diseases of the colon, minimally invasive hernia repair, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, and thyroid surgery. He utilizes the DaVinci robotic system for many of his minimally invasive procedures. The system provides better visualization for the surgeon with less pain and quicker recovery for patients. Click here for more information about the DaVinci robotic system. A complete list of procedures Dr. Akins performs is listed under the “Procedures” section of our website.

“I realize surgery is a major event in my patients’ lives. I make every effort to explain surgical procedures in familiar terms and answer all questions so my patients and their families will be at ease.”

Dr. Akins is married and has four children. His wife Leslie is a Nurse Practitioner at the VA and was instrumental in developing the Primary Care and Hope Clinic in Murfreesboro in 1996.


Mark Akins, MD

Dr. Ward Houck, MD, FACS

College:  Davidson College

Medical School:  Medical University of South Carolina

Residency: Medical University of South Carolina

Fellowship:  Medical College of Virginia (CardioThoracic)

Fellowship:  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Minimally-Invasive Thoracic Surgery)

Certification:  American Board of Surgery (General and Thoracic Surgery)

Professional Organizations:  Fellow – American College of Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgery, Southern Thoracic Surgical Associatino

Dr. Houck is originally from Florence, South Carolina.  Growing up the son of a surgeon, he was exposed to hospitals and the practice of medicine at an early age.  As a child, he would accompany his father “on rounds” whenever he could and as a teenager, assisted him both in the office and the operating room.  Seemingly destined to be a surgeon, he asked hi father “what is the most difficult field in surgery?”.  The reply was CardioThoracic surgery.  With that goal in mind, Dr. Houck completed his undergraduate stud in Pre-medicine at Davidson College, earning his Bachelor of Science.  He attended the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and  following graduation, remained there for his General Surgery Residency.  It was during these ten years in Charleston that he was married and began his family.  Following his residency, he moved his young family to Richmond, Virginia where he completed his CardioThoracic Fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.  Nearing the end of his fellowship, he heard that Dr. Robert McKenna at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles was offering a fellowship in the emerging field of Minimally-Invasive Thoracic Surgery.  Dr. Houck applied and was accepted in the position as the first fellow in the program.  At the conclusion of his fellowship, Dr. Houck was asked to remain with Dr. McKenna’s practice as an associate.

He remained in private practice in Los Angeles from 2003 – 2006, but always had it in mind that he wished to return home to the Southeast.  He was recruited back b a practice opportunity in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006.  After eight years in Atlanta, the opportunity to relocate to Murfreesboro arose.  The challenge of creating a new Thoracic surgery program as well as the wonderful community, made the decision an easy one for Dr. Houck.

Dr. Houck is board certified in both General Surgery and Thoracic Surgery.  He performs the entire breath of General Thoracic Surgery including benign and malignant diseases of the chest, lungs, and esophagus.  his expertise in minimally-invasive techniques translates into a greater than 95% rate of success in avoiding the need for the larger incisions of traditional thoracic surgery with the accompanying increased risk of complications and pain/debilitation.  Dr. Houck uses thoracoscopic, laparoscopic, and muscle-sparing incisions to achieve less pain, shortened hospital stays, and decreased costs, while maintaining quality outcomes.

Dr. Houck has been married for nearly twenty years and has been blessed with five children.  When he is not at the hospital, he can be found with his family.


Stephen Rich, MD

Dr. Stephen Rich, MD, JD, FACS

College:  University of Tennessee

Law School:  Cumberland School of Law of Samford University – Birmingham, Alabama.

Medical School:  University of Tennessee, Memphis

Residency: University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Chattanooga

Certification:  American Board of Surgery

Professional Organizations:  Fellow – American College of Surgeons, Southeastern Surgical Congress, Rutherford County Stones River Academy of Medicine, Tennessee Medical Association.

Dr. Rich entered into the medical field along a non-traditional path.  After receiving an undergraduate degree in finance, he obtained a law degree.  After practicing law in Murfreesboro, he decided to return to school to study medicine.  Dr. Rich was drawn to the specialty of general surgery because of the ability to treat a wide variety of disease processes.  The operations he performs include traditional open and laparoscopic surgeries.  He also performs advance laparoscopic surgeries including bariatrics and robotic operations in select patients.

He is married and blessed with twins.  Time outside of the hospital and office is spent almost exclusively with his family.

Wayne Westmoreland, MD

M. Wayne Westmoreland, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Medical School:  University of Tennessee, Memphis

Internship:  Methodist Hospital, Memphis-Surgery

Residency:  University of Tennessee, Memphis

Certification:  American Board of Surgery

Dr. Westmoreland has practiced general surgery in Murfreesboro for over 30 years and added bariatric surgery to his practice in 2005. He performed his first laparoscopic gastric bypass in January 2005 adding the Lap-Band in 2006 and then performed his first sleeve gastrectomy in 2007. He is also trained on the Davinci robot and has utilized the robot for gastric bypass and colon resections. Dr. Westmoreland began the bariatric program at Middle Tennessee Medical Center, now St. Thomas Rutherford which was designated as a Center of Excellence by the ASMBS. The Center at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital is now a certified MBSQIP Center which is the highest level of distinction for bariatric centers.

In addition to his extensive experience with the sleeve gastrectomy having performed the procedure since 2007, Dr. Westmoreland offers an affordable self-pay price for those patients in need of bariatric surgery who have no insurance coverage.

Dr. Westmoreland has continued to perform general surgery for surgical problems – hernias, gallbladder, hiatal hernia repairs and anti-reflux procedures as well as colon surgery for diverticulitis and colon cancer. He says these surgeries are for surgical problems and when the surgery is over we are usually finished with the problem. Bariatric surgery is surgery for medical problems and after the surgery is performed we are just getting started and are never finished. He is extremely proud of his multi-disciplinary team who provide teaching and training to help support and promote the lifestyle changes that are necessary for long-term successful weight loss. He says “Obesity challenges every aspect of our human condition and requires attention to our body, mind and spirit to allow the individual to experience healing and live longer and better.”