Elizabethton surgeon brings international experiences to Tri-Cities region

Dr. Jeremy Meyer has done quite a bit of traveling to obtain the experience and schooling necessary for his career, including traveling to Nicaragua in between his undergraduate degree and medical school.

“It was right after college, either 2007 or 2008,” Meyer said. “The college I went to had a student mission program.”

Meyer said he spent 10 months in the country, but did not just provide health care to the little village. In fact, he pretty much did a little bit of everything.

“You did a lot of things you would not expect,” he said. “I had to fix 1965 Army trucks. It was not good.”

He said he even had to learn how to weld, an experience he described as disastrous.

The experience was more positive than negative, however. He said the experience taught him skills he would need as part of his profession.

Meyer currently works full time as a surgeon at Ballad Health’s Elizabethton branch off Elk Avenue, a position he has had for a number of years.

“I was looking for a small-town hospital, and my wife and I like the area,” he said.

He said the guides for his trip to Nicaragua told him he would need to be flexible, willing to do whatever is required in the given moment.

“Every experience is unique,” Meyer said of his current job. “There is variety in each day, and that variety is what keeps me wanting to do it.”

That variety sometimes manifests in work days that can run for 18 hours depending on the volume of patients in a given day.

“Sometimes you can be set to end the day at 2 p.m. and suddenly it only ends at 2 a.m.,” Meyer said.

The stress is different overseas, however. He said his time in Nicaragua gave him a greater appreciation for what the U.S. provides, both in health care and basic technology.

He said they had a couple batteries they could use to power one light, and they had to collect water from the rain every couple of days.

“Access to health care is not easy in other parts of the world,” Meyer said. “We were five hours away from the nearest true hospital.”

This experience carried over into his professional career, one that has brought stress in other areas in his life, but he said it was worth it.

His wife currently works once a week at a hospital in Johnson City, but his days on call often leave him apart from his three-year-old daughter and almost two-year-old son.

“You can miss out on family functions, and sometimes you can miss your kids for several days at a time,” Meyer said.

In spite of the occasional strain on his familial relationships, he said he will sometimes make sure he clears parts of his schedule so he can spend time with them.

“It comes in waves; sometimes it is easier and sometimes it is not,” he said.

He said all of the stress and challenges in his experiences is worth it because he is doing something he loves, a lesson he said he hopes to impart to others.

“It does not matter the amount of work necessary for your chosen field if you enjoy it,” Meyer said. “That is what matters, and it will lead to a satisfied life.”

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