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  • Writer's pictureDr. Percy

Why I Left Mississippi

There comes a time in everyone's life where they have to make difficult decisions.

In mid-December, I left my practice of two and a half years in Central Mississippi and picked up my life and moved across the country to Buffalo, New York. A lot of people have looked at me and asked "Why?" Why move some where so cold? Why Buffalo? Why now?

During my medical training at both Michigan State and UK, I have always held a particular interest in musculoskeletal medicine. That's the bones, muscles, joints, and nerves of the human body, and how we use them to not only move about our day to day lives, but how they allow us do amazing things, like climb mountains, run ultramarathons, and withstand other outrageous stresses. I am fascinated at the ways science and medicine has allowed us to understand our bodies and tissues in order to repair, restore or accommodate for dysfunction. Additionally, we are constantly learning more about preventing dysfunction and injury while promoting overall wellness. My goal since the beginning has been to help people live their lives to the fullest by getting them back to the activities they enjoy, and helping them perform at their highest level of function. I trained with some wonderful physicians over the years that supported and reinforced this interest while molding my skill set into that of a well-rounded PM&R doc. When it came time to conclude my residency and go out on my own, I chose to take on the role of an outpatient MSK physician just outside of Jackson, MS.

When I initially moved to Mississippi, I intended to use my skills to focus on the musculoskeletal needs of the residents of Central Mississippi. As happens with the best laid plans, life threw me a curveball and I came to realize I would best be able to serve my community as a general PM&R physician. I still cared for the MSK injuries and dysfunction that I love to treat, but also used my knowledge to help those in need with more "traditional rehab diagnoses"- those with stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsy.

Another big draw to the position in Mississippi for me was the opportunity to develop a comprehensive amputation and limb loss rehabilitation program. A 2014 report out of Dartmouth revealed that Mississippi has the highest rate of amputation in the nation. This is largely due to the high rates of conditions such as diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and renal disease coupled with lack of access to care in the largely rural, generally poor state. This is a very underserved population in Mississippi, and I am very proud of the work we accomplished and thankful for the relationship I made during my time there.

With time, as I was learning what it takes to practice medicine in the "real world", I came to realize many things. First, there are many wonderful and smart people in the medical and general wellness community in the Jackson area. Secondly, I came to realize that there are some areas I felt I was lacking in when it came to my skill set I found myself referring people out to other doctors for procedures that I increasingly wanted to be able to do myself. I was not doing as much ultrasound as I had wanted. There was a general sense of wanting to improve myself and my skill set that I was just not able to accomplish with my situation at the time.

In my research, I serendipitously came across a small, busy PM&R practice in Buffalo, New York. An established practice in the community, with a reputation of being leaders in non-operative MSK medicine in the region. They share a similar philosophy to practicing MSK medicine as I do- a therapy based approach to correct biomechanical imbalances, complemented by ultrasound and fluoroscopically-based procedures to help their patients not only with their pain, but to allow them to participate in therapy to learn how to manage or correct their issues. When the opportunity arose to come learn new techniques and practice with the group, I couldn't turn it down.

The decision to leave my patients and practice is not one that I took lightly. I had developed relationships and trust with these people. We had created treatment plans, and I'm hopeful we were making progress. But I know that I am leaving them in capable hands with the team that remains in Mississippi and I wish them all the best.

My time in Mississippi was a great learning experience and I know I grew both professionally and personally in many ways. It will always be my first real "big girl job" and hold a special place in my heart. I will definitely miss many of the people that I came to know and love in my community. While it is no secret that I was not a fan of the hot, humid summers (you can take the girl out of the North, but can't take the North out of the girl...), I will most certainly miss the mild winters and beautiful "shoulder seasons". There's nothing like being able to wear my Chacos 10-11 months out of the year, and driving with the sunroof open on sunny February days!

For my former patients or anyone in the Jackson metro area looking to continue their journey of improving functional mobility, strength and body well-being, I'll recommend to you the people I trusted my own well-being to: Tara, Katie, and everyone at Tara Yoga ( are phenomenal. They have created an all-welcoming, serene environment where they focus on safe, functional body mechanics incorporated into the asana practice that can be tailored to all ability levels. I don't know if I'll ever love a yoga studio or community as much as I do Tara Yoga. And for all of your myofascial and massage needs, I recommend Ben at Marathon Massage Therapy ( Ben is a wonderful, professional LMT providing services for both active individuals and massage for pain. His myofascial therapy significantly helped manage my own chronic myofascial pain and I'll miss being able to follow with him dearly.

As for Buffalo, I am very excited about exploring my new city. Like much of the Rust Belt, it is experiencing a resurgence and I'm looking forward to being a part of it. As a small town girl from Northern Michigan, in a way it feels like coming home. None of us know where the future will lead, but I am thankful for the path that has brought me to where I am today and am excited for the road ahead. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in getting me to where I am today.

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