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Thursday, January 5, 2012

PGFD PROFILE - Dr. Tracy Timmons - Road Doctor to Medical Scholar

Dr. Tracy Timmons
Road Doctor to Medical Scholar

By: Diane V. Cunningham, Public Information Office

When Tracy Alane Timmons showed up on Monday, February 8, 1993, for her first day of Career Recruit School (CRS) #25, not even she fathomed that she would one day give new meaning to the term “road doctor.”

Dr. Tracy A. Timmons
In June 1993, Tracy Timmons graduated from the Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department CRS #25 and began her career as a firefighter. After being with the Department for one year, Fire Fighter Timmons cross-trained and became a paramedic. “I realized that I hated not having enough knowledge about what was going on with the patients I was transporting via ambulance. I wanted to know what the paramedics knew,” she said.

During her tenure with the Fire/EMS Department, Fire Fighter/Paramedic Timmons was assigned to Landover Hills Fire/EMS Station 830; Chillum-Adelphi Fire/EMS Station 834; and Glenn Dale Fire/EMS Station 818. She was also a member of the Special Tactical Unit at Tuxedo-Cheverly Fire/EMS Station 822. Always one who desired to help others, she derived fulfillment from her dual status of firefighter and paramedic. However, after a while, she was no longer satisfied with just “knowing what the paramedics knew.” Tracy now wanted to know what those to whom she transported patients—the ER doctors—knew. In December 1995, she acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland. After 7 years with the Fire/EMS Department, Fire Fighter/Paramedic Timmons left to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. She received her Doctor of Medicine degree in 2004, from the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond.

Dr. Timmons’ resume boasts of an extensive list of accomplishments, ranging from Chief Resident of General Surgery with the Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems to Surgical Critical Care Fellowship with R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (STC), University of Maryland Medical Center. In 2010, she was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she presently serves. Her clinical activities include: Trauma Surgeon, Surgical Intensivist at R Adams Cowley STC and General Surgeon on emergency surgery at Baltimore Veteran’s Administration Medical Center. Impressively, her publications peer-reviewed journal articles include 1). Lin M, Mohammed H, Brazio P, Lavien G, Lumpkins K, Timmons T. “Sacral osteomyelitis: an unusual complication form foreign body ingestion” (AM Surgeon); and 2). Timmons, T and Menaker, J. “Traumatic brain injury in the elderly” (Clinical Geriatrics 2010; 18:20-24).

A typical work schedule for Dr. Timmons consists of 21-35 consecutive days, followed by a week off. Two out of every 7 days, she works a 24 hour shift. While speaking of her extremely demanding schedule, she jokingly referenced her Fire/EMS Department days, saying, “24/72 was certainly a better schedule! Nevertheless, I love what I do.”

Growing up, for as long as she could remember, Tracy wanted to be a soldier. Her dad was an active service member, and her goal was to follow in his footsteps. She never once thought about a career in medicine until she became a paramedic. She attributes her success as a doctor to the training she received as a paramedic in the Fire/EMS Department. “Being a paramedic was invaluable to becoming a doctor. Because of that, I went into medical school with some life experience.”

“Another reward of being a paramedic,” according to Dr. Timmons, “is when you’re 911, folk are happy to see you show up. As a doctor, the level of gratitude is not the same. Folk have unreal expectations of what doctors know or can do.” Asked if there is any part of being a doctor that she finds difficult, she responded, “I experience great difficulty in dealing with family, as it relates to accepting the reality of the patient’s condition. Another thing that’s difficult for me is losing a patient, as I sometimes do. In those times, I walk away questioning whether there was something I could have done better or differently to change the outcome.”

Describing her special interests and hobbies, 43-year-old Dr. Timmons said she is greatly interested in neurotrauma, which is injury to a nerve, especially part of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). As far as hobbies go, she plays the guitar and is fond of live music—mostly blues and folk. “I also like keeping fit, which I do by walking on the treadmill and weight training. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to do many of the things I enjoy. I obviously would also love to spend more time at home,” she says.

Dr. Tracy Timmons, her wife and 8 year-old stepson reside in Timonium, Maryland.

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