COOKEVILLE – When Dr. Seth Means joined the team at Premier Diagnostic Imaging in July, he instantly became the youngest radiologist on staff. But he’s hoping to bring a dose of youthful experience to the seasoned practice that’s been a mainstay in the Cookeville medical community since 1999.
That certainly bodes well for patients who come to Premier for a slew of imaging services like MRI, CT, ultrasound and mammography. While Means sees patients of all kinds, he also has a special interest in musculoskeletal imaging, which includes imaging of the bones, joints, soft tissues and more.
“I’m trying to use the things I’ve learned recently and in my training and my young attitude to reinvigorate some things at Premier,” Means says. “My other partners (Drs. Daniel Coonce, William Humphrey and John Limbacher) are very well trained and are very good at what they do, and it’s great to work alongside them on a daily basis.”
Means, while a Putnam County newcomer, isn’t a complete stranger to the state. He grew up mostly outside Atlanta in Marietta, Ga., but attended the University of Tennessee-Knoxville as an undergrad and later stayed in the UT system to attend medical school in Memphis. It seemed obvious, even at a young age, that he’d wind up in some kind of medical profession. “Everybody thought I was going to grow up to be a doctor,” he says. “It almost became a running joke. But it was always something I thought I wanted to pursue.” He interned at Erlanger hospital in Chattanooga and completed his four-year residency in diagnostic radiology at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He got extra training in musculoskeletal radiology during a fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta.
While radiology was not on his radar initially upon entering med school, there were many advantages to the specialty, he said. Among the highest ranking is the need for a well-rounded knowledge base. Those who practiced in the field also seemed to enjoy what they did.
“Radiology plays a very central part in all fields of medicine,” Means says. “You’ve got to have a knowledge base in all the fields of medicine, from pediatrics to geriatrics and infectious disease to cancer. That really appealed to me. I also really enjoyed the technology side of it, and it’s one of the fields that’s on the cutting edge. And every radiologist I worked with, they seemed happy with their job. With all those things combined, that was the choice. And I’m very glad it was.”
Much of Means’ interest in musculoskeletal imaging came from a youth entrenched in sports – he says he played football, basketball and baseball. While at Premier, he’ll see patients with athletic-related injury, but is also interested in those with arthritis or other types of chronic pain.
“We have a very close relationship with the orthopedist who deals with Tennessee Tech, so a lot of Tech’s athletes come through Premier. With my knowledge base, in consultation with the orthopedic surgeon, I’m able to help come up with a game plan for the patient, so they can make the best decision on treatment,” Means said. “But they (the patient) don’t have to be a young or a high-end athlete. With our patient population here, we’re going to come across people with back pain, knee pain or some kind of other chronic joint pain, and that also translates very well.”
Outside of work, Means enjoys spending time with his family, which includes his wife and two small kids. He’s an avid University of Tennessee sports fan and enjoys playing golf and traveling.
Means’ move to Cookeville also meant for some closer family ties. His parents are originally from the UC and have since moved back to the area. His brothers live locally, too.
“It was important to get close to family if I had the opportunity, and Premier was that opportunity for me,” Means said. “It’s a busy practice, and it’s a very family-oriented, friendly atmosphere. I’m also able to do everything (imaging wise) at Premier, which is nice. There were opportunities where I would only be doing musculoskeletal imaging, and that would be nice, but I also spent four years training for general radiology, and I didn’t want to lose that.
“I have some new experiences and I hope to boost what we do at Premier and make it an even better place.”