Double Duty: As soldier and doctor, Miller begins work in Elizabethton

Published 9:24 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden Since moving to the area one more ago, Dr. Jess Miller operates his family practice out of the Mountain States Medical Group office right across from Sycamore Shoals Hospital.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Since moving to the area one more ago, Dr. Jess Miller operates his family practice out of the Mountain States Medical Group office right across from Sycamore Shoals Hospital.

A medical career spanning across the globe, Dr. Jess Miller is no stranger to the ins and outs of practicing medicine.
The decorated soldier, who was awarded a Bronze Star Medal during his time with the Army, is now part of the Mountain States Medical Group Family Medicine located near Sycamore Shoals Hospital. Miller began working at the facility two weeks ago.
“Everyone has been very welcoming, professional and everyone has been knowledgeable about their roles and jobs here,” the doctor said about his time in the area.
Originally from Victoria Texas, the doctor graduated from Texas A&M in 2005 and went on to continue his schooling at University of Texas Medical School in Houston before graduating there in 2009.
It was journey full of different destinations for Miller once he graduated college. Being involved with the service while in school made the decision quite clear for what he had in store for the future.
“When I was in college, I was in the cadet corps,” Miller said. “A lot of my peers were going into the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. That experience really motivated me to pursue a military experience. It seemed like a very unique place to practice medicine and it is very high-demand area.”
Miller’s journey began in Georgia as he worked his way through the Army ranks.
“I started off in the service at Fort Benning, Georgia,” Miller said about his time at the Martin Army Community Hospital. “That’s where I did my residency and training in Family Medicine. I was there about three years. My last year there I was chief resident, so we did a lot of curriculum design, schedule management, departmental interaction … the residents were really the ones that kept the hospital open, especially overnight.”
Following his time in the states, Miller then took his talents to Ansbach, Germany to work as the Medical Director of the Katterbach Health Clinic, where they achieved recognition as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home.
His time with the military also netted two tours in Afghanistan. Miller’s first deployment was with the Second Cavalry as a squadron physician – a job that included medical operating planning, emergency response planning, working with individuals in skills and training and working with soldiers on patrols.
“I saw quite a bit of Afghanistan’s countryside,” Miller said with a smile.
After his first deployment, the doctor served as a Special Ops Task Force Physician in Fort Bragg, N.C., and worked with the group during his second tour in the Middle East.
But now with a civilian practice, Miller said he doesn’t see much of a change over.
“I see it as a seamless transition,” Miller said. “Medicine and healthcare, as it pertains to the individual as a patient, doesn’t change that much. Everyone needs the same preventive care.”
The ability to make those connections with patients, overseas or at home, is what drew the doctor into the profession.
“I’ve always had an interest in science and research,” Miller said. “Halfway through the college, I learned that I wanted to start applying that to healthcare. What really drew me into medicine was the patient interaction. It’s very a personal interaction that has a direct impact on someone’s health.
“Another aspect to healthcare that I really find fascinating is there’s a demand for lifelong learning in medicine,” he continued. “Even after finishing medical school and residency, there’s never a point in medicine where you can say ‘I have arrived’.”
Staying active in the profession and always wanting to help patients has allowed the doctor to use a variety of methods as far as treatments goes.
“Really, all the way through residency, I practiced full spectrum outpatient care,” he said. “And it was for all ages, specifically procedures, joint injections, trigger point injections and skin care.”
The lifelong learning came into action for Miller throughout his time in Europe. It was during his time at Katterbach that he attended a weeklong session at the University of Graz in Austria, an hour away from Ansbach, to learn more of dermatoscopy and the process of magnifying and polarizing light to better quantify skin lesions.
With a wide arsenal of treatment methods at his dispose in at Family Medicine, Miller added that simple surgical procedures at the office are incoming, with the capability and plans of accomplishing that ‘falling into place’.
Along with a passion for medicine, the love of the outdoors helped lead the doctor, his wife and two children – soon to be three – to Elizabethton.
“When my wife and I decided we were going to finish our time with the Army and pursue civilian practice, we looked all across the country,” he said. “There were a few factors that came into it specifically. We were looking for a small town with a high demand for primary healthcare and we both really enjoy the outdoors and personal fitness. We want an area like that and it really narrowed it down to just a couple of places. One of the things that stood out about this area was the natural beauty, the friendly, approachable people and we really loved that the area enabled outdoor recreation. Between the parks, lake, the Tweetsie Trail and the parks in town, it really promotes outdoor activity.”
Elizabethton appeared on Miller’s radar after a discussion with one of his fellow soldiers.
“I had a friend from the area who actually was with me in Afghanistan,” he said. “ Just in the course of conversation, he was asking about some of the places we were looking at. I told him the general area of the country, the general part of the state and the more I narrowed it down, the more we found out it was actually his hometown. He told me a little more about it, so we got excited about our first trip here, which was actually a multi-state road trip we were on to find a new home. Another passion I have is public health, and that also led us here. What type of infrastructure does the community have and where is it going as far as public health and promoting pedestrian and cycling traffic, a healthy workforce and community … and we found that be a unique factor here.”
Miller is currently seeing patients of different age groups. The doctor added he’s opened Monday through Thursday with Friday being a day designated as a volunteer day within the community.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 542-7400.

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