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Dr. Jeffrey Harrell: From Military Service to Medical Care

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Dr. Jeffrey Harrell, PA, is an experienced healthcare provider whose fascinating background lends him a truly unique skill set. Jeff transitioned into medicine after a five-year career in protective operations for the U.S. and its paramilitary contractors in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Throughout his service, Jeff worked as a Medic, a Search and Rescue Team Leader, a Tactical Commander, and a High Threat Protection Officer. “I was most drawn to the positions where I could protect people and save lives,” he explains. Jeff believes that his experiences providing care in high-stakes situations gave him the discipline and endurance he needed to succeed in the medical field.

Guardian in Green, Savior in White

While many young medical professionals face tremendous doubts about their chosen path, Jeff says that he would’ve had an easier time counting the reasons not to pursue medicine. “After my overseas deployments, I was looking for a way to help people back home,” he explains. “When I began working in medicine, I found that I really loved caring for people, and I was able to make a positive impact on so many lives. It just seemed like emergency medicine was a perfect fit.”

The pandemic showed us all just how tough it would be to work in the medical field. Jeff has no misconceptions about the difficulties of his work in medicine, but he meets each day with a positive mindset and a productive attitude. “It can be a really tough job, but it’s incredibly fulfilling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” says Jeff.

Troubled Times for the Medical Field

Medicine is a capricious path; it frequently changes direction, tightens requirements or regulations, increases in complexity and cost. After such a devastating pandemic, the likes of which the modern world has never seen, it’s only natural to wonder; what’s going to happen to the medical field after COVID?

Jeff is worried for the future of the medical field. Frontline workers were promised support during one of the most difficult periods that we as a nation have ever faced, and the promises fell through. It was said by those in our own government that “We were lucky, that we should simply be glad to still have jobs,” he recalls. This lack of support during periods of difficulty is a symptom of a larger issue: the widespread undervaluation of American healthcare workers. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for this issue. Changing the minds of an entire nation has proven time and time again to be a near-futile endeavor.

Jeff foresees trouble ahead for providers of all experience levels, as the industry is bogged down by ever-increasing amounts of red tape. This trend towards over-regulation is pushing many veteran doctors away from the industry altogether. As Jeff explains, “Bureaucracy and regulation are starving the medical field and bringing about dangerous levels of inefficiency and inefficacy.”

“The future of the medical field is ambiguous. No one really knows what it’s going to look like when (or if) things ever settle down,” says Jeff, “but peeking through the fog, there are little rays of hope for what’s to come.” Jeff hopes that the current trend towards defensive medicine — which values decisions that protect doctors from liability over those that help patients — will change in favor of a more offensive approach. “We need to focus on giving patients the care they really need, instead of doing just enough to cover our own backs,” he says.

Success Beyond Medicine

In addition to his work in medicine, Jeff currently serves as Managing Director for Avant-Garde Strategies, a consulting firm based in Jefferson, NC, that specializes in developing businesses in a range of industries, including healthcare, customer service, finance, real estate, marketing, and government project management. Avant-Garde uses creativity, analysis, and problem-solving skills to decrease costs and increase both revenue and customer satisfaction. This seems like the perfect alternative outlet for Jeff to use his skills to help others survive and thrive.

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