Physician Spotlight: Dr. G. Harold Naramore
G. Harold Naramore is more than just a physician. He’s more than just an administrator and much more than just an attorney. Actually, he’s all three.
The medical degree, master’s in business administration, and law degree are not just initials after his name, they are the tools he draws from to fulfill his childhood calling: to help others.
Naramore knew as a young boy which path he would choose.
“As early as I can remember, I knew my career choice because I was always fascinated by how the human body and mind worked,” he explained.
He received a medical degree and completed his residency in psychiatry at James H. Quillen College of Medicine in 1987 and 1991, respectively. There, he explored the interaction between the mental and physical aspects of healthcare.
“I was challenged by illnesses that can be produced when the balance of the mind and the body is disrupted and I wanted to help the people who were affected by it,” he said.
When Naramore was medical director at Woodridge Hospital (then part of Frontier Health), he became keenly aware of how medical, administrative, and legal issues overlap to affect the delivery of healthcare. Even though he was working full time, he enrolled in an MBA program at the University of Tennessee (UT), along with physicians from 17 states and four countries. The program centered on healthcare’s interaction with the business world.
Shortly after completing his MBA in 2002, Naramore had a unique opportunity to enter UT’s College of Law. His high school fascination with court proceedings and the relationship he experienced with the legal aspects of healthcare drew him to obtain his law degree with an eye toward healthcare related issues.
While attending law school, Naramore continued working as a psychiatrist for Frontier Health’s Nolachuckey-Holston Area Mental Health Center in Greeneville one day a week during most semesters. Despite juggling a heavy study and work load, he received four awards for academic excellence for having the highest grades in his law school class.
With a law degree in hand in 2006, Naramore joined Hunter, Smith & Davis as an associate attorney, where he worked mainly on healthcare-related legal issues. “The practice of the law is very much what I anticipated it would be. I haven’t been disappointed,” he said. “I love the practice of law, particularly healthcare law, but I also love the practice of medicine and I missed seeing patients. Frontier Health has allowed me an opportunity to do both.”
As staff psychiatrist and general counsel for Frontier Health, Naramore enjoys both the medical and legal aspects of his job. “Working for Frontier Health is all about healthcare, but I get to practice law and directly work with patients,” he said. “I enjoy taking care of patients and the challenge of trying to help them. It’s great to see them improve and begin to take part in their own improvement.”
Being part of Frontier Health for nine years and continuing part time before returning in 2007, Naramore said it was an easy transition to return. “Frontier Health is an organization that truly cares about the delivery of quality services to people who are mentally ill,” he said. “The organization is particularly blessed by a leadership team with clinical backgrounds that I believe provides a unique perspective in the provision and delivery of quality behavioral health services.”
Since first taking the Hippocratic Oath, Naramore has witnessed the progression of behavioral healthcare. “Our understanding of mental illnesses has increased continuously since I became a physician. Research and development has led to many new and effective pharmacological agents and our understanding of how the brain works has dramatically increased,” he said. “But we have so much more to understand.”
Naramore, a clinical assistant professor at the Quillen College of Medicine, believes as we further identify the biochemistry of the brain that the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness will also evolve. “As we understand more about the brain and how it works, we’ll be able to more precisely define mental illness, which will allow us to develop new and more effective treatments,” he said.
One thing Naramore would love to see change is the public perception of mental illness. “There is a misperception about what mental illness is and it creates a significant barrier to people needing treatment,” he said. “We need to work to de-mystify mental illness and understand that it is prevalent in society.
Everyone is either touched by it or knows someone who is touched by it.”
Twice, Naramore has been named Outstanding Clinical Faculty Member at East Tennessee State University’s Department of Psychiatry. He has also received the Tri-Cities Business Journal 40 Under Forty and Health Care Heroes awards, and was chief resident and Resident of the Year. He also received the Wilkins & Wilkins Award for academic achievement in medical school and received the Louis A. Chancellaro Outstanding Performance Award for Exemplary Achievement as a resident
Continuing education for Naramore is complicated. Not only does he need to continue his CMEs, he also maintains CLEs for his law degree, which requires online courses and seminars in both areas to maintain his certifications.
When he is not working or learning, Naramore enjoys time with his family, church-related activities and sports — especially Tennessee football.
Regardless of what he does, Naramore is focused on the goal he carries from childhood: “I just enjoy helping people,” he said.