Dr. Terry Mitchell Waxahachie Medical Director


Introducing Dr. Terry Mitchell, Our Waxahachie Medical Director

We are excited and proud to announce that Dr. Terry Mitchell will be our new on-site Medical Director for the Altus Emergency Center in Waxahachie. Another excellent addition to our Altus Physicians Group.

We were delighted to sit down with Dr. Mitchell to get to know him a little bit; here is an excerpt of our conversation.[/vc_column_text][us_image_slider ids=”24997,24996,24995,24994,24993,24991,24990,24992″ fullscreen=”1″ autoplay=”1″ img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]

Getting to Know Dr. Terry Mitchell

Q: Where were you born?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

I’m a Texas boy through and through. I was born in McKinney, Texas.

Q: What did you dream of becoming when you grew up?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

The first thing I remember wanting to be when I grew up was “on vacation.” Our family vacations were so much fun!

Q: Did you have a nickname growing up?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

Before college, people just called me “Mitch.” Then during my freshman year in college, while I was playing in my first of 5 intramural single tennis tournament finals, I got a new nickname.

My opponent got a little frustrated during the match and said I was like an octopus as he couldn’t seem to get a ball past me. I ended up losing that match, but the nickname stuck. Oh, and I’m proud to say I went on to win four singles, three doubles, and two mixed doubles intramural tournament finals after that one loss.

Q: We know you are a hard worker, but there must be times when you get to relax. Do you have any hobbies or special interests outside of work?

A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

When I am not working, there is a good chance that you will find me on a tennis court. My main interests include tennis, tennis, tennis, Bible study, and travel.

Q: What’s a fun fact about you many people may not know?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

A fun fact about me that not many people know is that I graduated from college as a schoolteacher and coach.

My first-year teaching, I taught science and coached tennis, winning district in all four events in a class A school.

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Q: When and how did you decide to become a doctor?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

During that school year, I was very active in a local church teaching both the high school and Men’s Sunday School.

One Sunday morning, the pastor gave a message on the parable of the Talents. He stated that he believed he was being led to help someone change careers.

He explained that the parable was about money but could also apply to your God-given talent. He asked the question: Are you using your talent in this community to the very best you can do?” My wife elbowed me in the ribs and said: “Well, Terry, are you?”

After this, I met with that pastor several times and decided to go to medical school.

Q: How hard was it to go back to school to pursue a different career?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

It wasn’t easy. I worked nights and weekends at a convenience store and took the courses needed to apply. I then took the MCAT and applied and looked for a teaching job near my hometown of McKinney while waiting to see if I would be accepted.

I got a call from a class A school where I had not applied, wanting to hire me as their head football coach over the phone.

Q: Did you get accepted into medical school right away?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

I only got one interview for medical school. I learned that it was a look at the lessor applicants to be sure they did not overlook a quality candidate.

My first interview was postponed to the end of the day as the interviewer had a surgical case that was taking longer than expected. So, I went to my second interview first. This interviewer grilled me on several questions that made me feel uncomfortable.

One of these was on how I would handle a patient who presented wanting an abortion. I stumbled over my words and felt sure that I had not left a good impression. I spent hours praying on how I could have answered his questions better.

The first interviewer, now the second, had only 1 question: “How would you handle a teen patient wanting an abortion without her parents knowing?” He said my answers were the best he has ever heard with years of asking that question. He was the head of the selection committee and informed me that I would be in the next entering class.

Q: Do you have a good quote to describe you or one that you relate to?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

A quote that I have used to describe myself since about 8th grade is:

“I have a lot of ability; it is called desire and hard work.”

Q: Fill in the blank: “I really love ____________.”
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

God, my wife Kris, my kids and grandkids, tennis, bible truths, traveling, and the rest of my family and friends.

Q: We can see you are a real family man; can you tell us a little about them? Also, do you have any pets?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

My wife is Kris, and we have five kids Delilah, Scotty, Janette, Joshua, and Jacey.

Delilah is married with three kids, Scotty is married with two kids, and Josh is married with one child. Jacey got married this past May and plans to have kids in about five years. Janette is engaged, but there is no date yet. We have three pets:

Zeke is our African Grey Parrot that is 18 and will outlive us both.

Lizzy is a Maltese who is now 15.

Zeus is a Great Dane we have had for about five years.

I think we have pried enough into your personal life, let’s move on to your professional life.

Q: Tell a little about your studies, specialties and professional experience
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

I left a Family Medicine Residency in the second year with marriage on the rocks and an ill physician father who died a little over a year later.

I assumed my father’s general practice in McKinney, which consisted of over 400 nursing home patients in 9 nursing homes. I became the Medical Director of 4 nursing homes, a 6,000-patient base, rounding daily on 30-40+ patients in the hospital, participating in general surgery, and delivering babies.

I briefly hosted a noon Friday Christian radio talk show called Temple Talk. I would either have another Christian physician on with me or would field questions. For a time, my radio show was the #1 Friday noon talk show in Dallas.

After eight years of Family Medicine, I earned with CME and experienced the title Fellow of the American Academy of Family Practice (FAAFP).

Q: How did you decide to get back into emergency medicine?
A: Dr. Terry Mitchell

At a TMA meeting, I came across a booth recruiting for an Emergency Medicine Physician in Sulphur Springs.

I struggled for about three months, deciding to close my Family Practice and change to Emergency Medicine.

Q: What has been your professional experience in the field of emergency medicine?
A: Dr. Mitchell

I was 13 years in Sulphur Springs, 11 as Medical Director of Emergency Services and a two-county EMS system.

The last eight years, the local EM Physicians owned the contract with the hospital.

Then another administrator put out bids to see if the hospital could have a lower subsidy payment to the physician group. That is when I left and became Medical Director for several hospitals from 1-4 years each. I served at Center, Nacogdoches, Paris, and Bonham, Texas.

I became an Emergency Physician too late to be allowed to sit for the boards. However, considering my leadership and Emergency Medicine experience and serving in and being president of a nine-county Regional Trauma Committee. The American College of Emergency Physicians opened the door for only one year for a Legacy pathway to Fellowship. I applied and received the title of Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians (FACEP).

Q: What or who has been your most significant influence or your mentor?
A: Dr. Mitchell

My physician father, Dr. Glenn Mitchell, was the most substantial influence on my practice of medicine. After him, I would have to say it was the leader of the residency program, Dr. Harold Prussner and Dr. Presley Joe Mock with whom I precepted twice.

He told me that MD stands for

“Make a decision” and said, “don’t just stand there; do something.”

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Q: What would you say is your biggest achievement to date – personal or professional?
A: Dr. Mitchell

My most significant achievement to date is becoming and growing as a Christian. Nothing compares. Another is bringing home just under 200 tennis trophies. I still find it hard to fathom, making it through medical school. It was really hard.

Q: What is your mantra as a physician?
A: Dr. Mitchell

My mantra as an Emergency Physician is:

  1. To see people as Jesus sees them. Matthew 9:36 But when He (Jesus) saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. I want to see the people and have compassion for them.

  2. To be like Andrew, Peter’s brother, and find an inadequate solution for a problem and then have Jesus expand it to meet people’s needs. John 6:5-13 A multitude had followed Jesus, and the crowd needed feeding. Andrew found a boy with 5 biscuits and 2 fish, “but what are these among so many?” They gave these to Jesus who blessed the food and distributed enough to feed about 5,000 men plus women and children, and the 12 disciples each had a basket full left over. I look to Jesus to multiply the good that I do with the little I have to give, to increase my wisdom to order the needed tests and/or treatments.

  3. I want to touch the untouchable. Matthew 8:2-3. And behold, a leper (outcast due to a very contagious skin disease) came and worshiped Him, saying “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. One day I read this, and my wife looked at me and said; “It is a very good work that you do.” I touch those considered untouchable.

Q: Let’s talk about how you came to be a part of the Altus Emergency Centers family. How did you first hear about Altus Emergency?
A: Dr. Mitchell

I came to Altus when the Administrator at Bonham brought in a new management group, that was going to lower our pay.

I looked to see where I would go next in an Emergency Medicine newspaper add and was practicing in Altus Lumberton the month it opened. Three other Bonham physicians followed me, and 3 of the 4 of us are still together in Altus Waxahachie.

I was with Altus Lufkin and am still on staff with CHI St. Luke’s who took over the freestanding facility. I have had shifts in all the Altus Emergency Centers.

I was the first physician to work in the Waxahachie facility. I left to try my hand in occupational medicine, but now am back and will be serving as the Altus Waxahachie Medical Director.

Q: What is your management style? How do you like to communicate with your team?
A: Dr. Mitchell

My management style will change based on the person and the need. I like to communicate in person, by phone, and by text or e-mail.

When dealing with physician behavior, I often ask questions until I get them to say what I want to tell them. I have found this an excellent way to change physician behavior.

If I need to give negative feedback, I often use the sandwich technique with the bread being good stuff about them and the meat of the issue is the bad stuff. They then get good-bad-good. And I do not offer criticism without a solution.

Q: What is your bedside manner like?
A: Dr. Mitchell

I had thought about buying a home and naming it “Bedside Manor.” I worked hard to make my bedside manner better.

I have also written instructions to help other physicians from what I have learned. I show the caring and compassion that I really have and do quality education.

I spend a lot of time explaining the “why” when I see patients who are not going to get their expectations met due to best medical practices. I essentially reframe their expectations, and usually have them leave the ER saying, “thank you, doctor.”

I often sit to get my head as low or lower than theirs. I try and never talk with my hand on the doorknob. I want them all to feel I spent adequate time with them for their concerns.

Q: What is a typical day at Altus like?
A: Dr. Mitchell

A typical day at an Altus Freestanding Emergency Center is one of adequate time with the patient. Often being able to go in with the nurse during triage and nursing assessment and getting an earlier start with any orders needed; and an earlier discharge from the ER.

There is usually adequate stand-by time to rest, enabling 24-hour shifts. During the day, I use the stand-by time to call patients seen the day before, as we all do. I check to see how they are doing if they are having any problems with getting medications or follow up appointments. I answer any questions they have from the visit, and rarely call in additional medicine they may need.

Q: How would you describe the company culture here?
A: Dr. Mitchell

I have experienced the company culture to be like one of family. Everyone seems to work well together, delivering quality and speedy medical care. I still work at hospital facilities occasionally, and the lack of a sense of urgency and speed of care stands out when compared to Altus.

Q: What do you love most about working with Altus Emergency?
A: Dr. Mitchell

What I love most about working with Altus is both the family atmosphere and the quality and quantity time I have to spend with patients.

This is way different than hospital Emergency Medicine. There is time to build stronger relationships with both patients and the ER staff.

Q: What advice would you give to recent new staff?
A: Dr. Mitchell

Advice for new staff is to reset thinking to one of concierge Emergency Medicine. Door to Doc time is the #1 indicator of patient satisfaction, so get in the room as early as possible. Do this if even to tell them you know they are there and that you are involved in a complicated case and you will be with them as soon as you can.

Also, listen to the nurses. You never have to follow their suggestions, but if you do not consider them, you are making a mistake. They observe all of us in similar situations and may have seen something that works better. Always listen to them and treat them with respect. If you decide against their advice, informing them of why goes a long way to keep the family feeling. And there is time to do this at Altus.

Q: Do you have any cherished Quotes from management or coworkers about your excellent work?
A: Dr. Mitchell

I have a stack of notes given to me from hospital staff and patients at home about how my work is appreciated.

One nurse wrote,

“I feel like when you are here that there is nothing that can come in that you cannot handle.”

I have had comments about how calming I can be in a critical situation. One physician calling back patients seen the previous day told me, “your patients love you”.

We can’t thank you enough, Dr. Mitchell, for your generosity in sharing so much of your personal and professional life with us.

We are incredibly excited to see you continue doing such extraordinary work for the community of Waxahachie, and our Altus Emergency family.

You deserve the best care in an emergency. When seconds can make a difference between life and death, it’s good to know that you can count on top notch ER physicians such as Dr. Mitchell at Altus ER Centers.[/vc_column_text][us_image image=”24999″ size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]