Image Above: Tom Conage works two days each week in the NASA Langley clinic. He has been affiliated with NASA Langley since the mid '90s. Credit: Sean Smith/NASA.
Center Snapshot: Dr. Tom Conage
By: Denise Lineberry
Dr. Tom Conage, medical director of the NASA clinic, measures his success by the lives he impacts, not only by medicine, but also by example.
Conage focuses much of his time away from the NASA Langley clinic on at-risk teenagers and even some at-risk adults. “Positively changing the life of one person is great. More than one would be even better,” Conage said.
He considers his career a “rewarding” one. Conage aims to inspire others to also pursue a rewarding career in the field of their choice. The drop out rates in local high schools alarms him.
Conage grew up in the south during the “difficult times of segregation.” All of his naysayers motivated him to be successful.
“I was constantly told ‘you can’t do this’ which gave me the ‘yes I can’ attitude,” he said. But Conage realizes that most inner-city teenagers receive inspiration from their peers and people around them. And Conage hopes to be the inspiration that lets them know “yes you can.”
At 17, Conage began his undergraduate studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He attended medical school at the University of Colorado and did postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins (MPH). He is board certified in both Aerospace and Occupational Medicine and he is a Fellow of American College Preventive Medicine.
Conage volunteers his time through Kiwanis, The One-hundred Black Men and other organizations whose primary focus is children and mentoring high risk youth.
Conage is also the medical director to the city of Newport News downtown juvenile clinic and the Newport News adult corrections facility, sometimes known as the “city farm.”
Conage is a retired Air Force Colonel, Flight Surgeon. “My time served in the Air Force prepared me for many challenging situations,” Conage said. He was considered the authority for medical standards for the then Military Aircraft Command (MAC) in areas of special operations.
“I’m always willing to look at challenges and do what I can to help,” Conage said.
Conage works at the NASA Langley clinic two days a week. He is responsible for protocol physicals, health maintenance physicals, work injuries and medical care for NASA employees including allergy and flu shots. “Preventative medicine is a powerful thing,” Conage said.
“Here [at Langley] you are the head of power curve with prevention,” he said. “We only have eight staff members, but they are the best and hardest working group that I have been around.”
Conage is also in good company at home with his wife, Marjorie. They have two children, a son and a daughter.
His son is living in Florida and his daughter is living in Maryland. Conage is an Oriole fan and enjoys visiting his daughter and going to games at Camden Yards.
His blessings have led him to many accomplishments. “God blessed me with some stick-to-it-ive-ness and a little bit of smarts,” he said.
And a little bit of modesty too.