Dr. Amanda Lingerfelt’s desire to become a doctor started around the time she was 7 years old.
The Unicoi County native watched her mother go through some health issues that required a lot of diagnostic tests, and she found the whole process fascinating. When she told her family she intended to become a doctor when she grew up, her plan was met with their unconditional support.
“Nobody in my family had been to college,” Lingerfelt said. “I think there was only one at that time that had even graduated high school, but they never discouraged me. They said, ‘If that’s what you want to do, that’s what you’ll do.’ ”
And do it she did. Lingerfelt has recently returned home to Northeast Tennessee after receiving her medical training at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Lingerfelt served as Chief Resident at ETSU Family Physicians of Kingsport before joining the State of Franklin Healthcare Associates team at Primary Care of Elizabethton.
Spartanburg may only be two hours away, but that was plenty far enough to make Lingerfelt yearn for home. “It’s far enough out of the mountains that once I spent my first year there, I was like, no, I need my mountains,” she said. “We wanted to go back to the Tri-Cities. Our family is here and the mountains are here.”
Aside from her family and the mountains, Lingerfelt has a passion for improving healthcare for those who call our region home. She recalls learning about the work Remote Area Medical was doing while she was in college, and that only served to reinforce the need that exists in our region.
“I grew up seeing the need that was in this area,” she said. “I already knew (the need) was there.”
While she was growing up in Erwin, Lingerfelt was fortunate enough to cross paths with Kathy Bullen, an important mentor. Bullen taught an anatomy class at Unicoi County High School that only intensified Lingerfelt’s love for medicine. Later on, the opportunity to volunteer in a non-medical capacity at Niswonger Children’s Hospital further developed Lingerfelt’s desire to help patients.
Lingerfelt believes her training in osteopathic medicine makes her a natural fit at SoFHA, which emphasizes taking ownership in the health of each patient. Lingerfelt has a passion for preventive medicine, a cornerstone of SoFHA’s mission statement.
She begins with each patient by looking at diet and lifestyle choices and finding any potential areas to make improvements that could prevent medical intervention down the road. Her goal is to catch risk factors before they become disease states.
“Throughout medical school, I feel like being an osteopathic physician, they gave us really good tools as far as hands-on training and education on lifestyle changes before we ever get to talking about medications,” Lingerfelt said.
The core of Osteopathic Medicine is learning all the medical knowledge a doctor acquires during medical school and residency. Beyond that, osteopathic physicians spend an additional 300-400 hours of training on the musculoskeletal system alone with a focus on hands-on techniques to ease the pain.
“Using your hands to help heal certain things like back pain, neck pain, and headaches,” Lingerfelt said. “It instills that mindset that you don’t need to go to medications first. They’re there to help, but there are other things we can do. Medicines have their place, but it’s really neat to have that background.”
Each physician in the SoFHA network is surrounded by a robust support system of professionals that helps them follow up with patients, identify needs and connect patients with the resources they need to maintain a better state of health.
“State of Franklin has a lot of awesome resources to help me with that,” Lingerfelt said, adding that care coordinators, nutritionists, and social workers play vital roles in inpatient health at her practice. “A full team-based approach has been super helpful.”
Now that she’s back home, Lingerfelt has no desire to leave. Lingerfelt and her husband are in the process of building a house in Unicoi County, where they both grew up.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lingerfelt, call (423) 433-6630.