Whether he’s taking care of patients at Mizell Memorial Hospital or spending time with his family at home, Dr. James Norman said practicing medicine is a great privilege.
Born and raised in Luverne, he is a 2004 alumnus of Luverne High School. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Troy University and received his M.D. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Heersink School of Medicine.
“I have a distinct memory of being on a youth trip during my freshman year of college where I felt like I just knew this was what I was supposed to do. There was a speaker talking about foreign mission work, and I just knew at that moment God was preparing me for that kind of work, either internationally or at home. It was never on my radar before that moment. I had intentions of doing environmental science or something similar in the biology field. Since that moment, I haven’t thought about doing anything else but this,” Norman said.
Prior to working at Mizell Hospital, he was employed by Monroe County Hospital in Monroeville, Alabama, for the first four years after his residency. He then trained in South Bend, Indiana, at Memorial Hospital for four years and completed a family medicine residency with a post-residency year in primary care obstetrics.
Norman is a board-certified family medicine physician and has been a doctor since 2012 following graduation from UAB. “I am a family medicine physician and care for people of all ages from birth to death. I have received additional training in obstetrics as well as endoscopy. We currently do not deliver babies at Mizell, but I do colonoscopy procedures here,” he said.
His father was a doctor of education who taught sciences at Troy State for several decades, but he is the first physician in his family.
“I was a third-year medical student rotating with Dr. Bob Williams and spent a month working alongside him at my cell. I had a great experience with the hospital, the nursing staff, and the administration. Throughout my residency training, I remained in contact with Mizell. They offered me an opportunity to work weekends covering the hospital. After several years of doing that, it made the most sense to come on full-time as an employee of the hospital. That is why it is so imperative for Mizell or Andalusia to recognize the pathway for recruiting new healthcare providers starts very early. It can happen in medical school but also in undergraduate or high school. These experiences early in one’s career are very informative and impactful,” Norman said.
He believes family support is essential in the field of medicine. “Medical school, residency, and this line of work are very demanding and sometimes leave your tank empty at the end of the day. It would be unsustainable without knowing there are those people at home who love you and are waiting for you at the end of the day.”
Norman added that working in this profession means a lot to him.
“I have delivered babies and been there on the happiest day of someone’s life. I have been at the bedside as loved ones died. It is an honor to be invited into those spaces. I do not take this job lightly and never leave it. Patients circle in my mind at home and on vacation because that is the nature of the work. By the grace and guidance of God, I have found myself in this position. I never saw any other path for myself and don’t know what else I could do with my life.”
The last few years for individuals in medicine have been difficult due to the pandemic.
“At rural hospitals like Mizell and Andalusia, we have been pushed to the edge of our capacity and ability. Doctors, nurses, techs, and everyone working in the hospital have been exhausted. We have a few weeks to recover and then get thrown into the ringer over and over again with each wave of this virus. In health care, specifically in the hospitals, we have lived different experiences than the average person. We have felt helpless and hopeless when our best hasn’t been good enough. Please be kind and respectful to your healthcare providers when we all struggle through this together,” Norman said.
He is married to his wife, Rachel of nearly seven years. They have two sons, Sawyer and Clark, and are foster parents. When he is not at work, he enjoys visiting his family farm in Luverne, working in his garden, and serving as the pianist at the family church.
Norman’s office at Mizell is located at 802 North Main Street in Opp. For more information, call 334-493-3240.