From East TN Medical News
By Kimberly O’Neal Wilson
A calm, steady approach is Dr. Marcus Barber’s prescription for life and medicine.
The Knoxville vascular surgeon says when he’s not in the operating room or busy seeing patients at Premier Surgical Associates, it doesn’t take a lot to recharge his batteries.
“I’m pretty low key and like to keep things simple. I don’t jump out of airplanes,” laughed Barber. “I’m a sports fanatic. All I need is a big screen TV and a good game to watch.”
Barber’s low-key demeanor is also revealed when he reflects on growing up in Wichita, Kansas, known as the “Aircraft Capital of the World.” His parents moved there to work at the historic Boeing Aircraft plant when he was three years old. Even though Kansas ranks first in the nation in the total number of severe F5/EF5 tornados, Barber said learning to live with the threat of twisters was just part of life in Kansas.
“I’ve seen my fair share of funnel clouds. You just get used to it,” said Barber.” The tornado sirens would go off weekly at noon for drills during daytime in the spring, but it’s not as bad as you would think.”
Barber and his family witnessed the power of those tornados when one of the strongest outbreaks of tornados ever measured in Kansas, swept through in 1991.
“We were right in the middle of the tornados that hit South Wichita and Andover,” remembered Barber. The tornados, which killed 19 in Kansas, struck nearby McConnell Air Force Base and wiped out much of Andover. Luckily, young Barber’s family and home were left intact. “God was surely watching over us that day,” said Barber.
Barber graduated high school in Wichita and enrolled at Wichita State University.
“I went to college planning to become an engineer,” explained Barber. But, during his sophomore year, his plans changed when he volunteered at a local family practice office.
“I quickly decided Internal Medicine and Family Practice weren’t for me, but then I became involved in emergency care,” said Barber. He began volunteering in the Emergency Department at night at Wichita’s top trauma center, and was hooked.
After graduating from Wichita State University, with degrees in biochemistry and sociology, Barber pursued a medical degree at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He was initially interested in specializing in Emergency Medicine.
“But, I had a preceptor in med school who was an urologist. He got me into the operating room, and I fell in love with surgery and decided to go into General Surgery,” said Barber.
During medical school, Barber discovered another love, his wife Megan. She was a nurse at the same hospital as Barber. The two had a shared connection.
“We attended the same high school, but she was younger and we didn’t date then. Her sister and I had classes together,” rememberd Barber. Megan is a practicing Intensive Care Unit nurse in Knoxville. Barber says it’s helpful to have a spouse who understands the demands of the medical profession.
“She knows the medical field and understands the time constraints,” said Barber. He said they make a conscious effort to focus on their time as a couple. “We try not to talk too much about work at home. We enjoy spending time together with our dog Braxton.”
Megan encouraged Barber when his interest switched from General to Vascular Surgery. “We took care of many vascular patients during my residency and I gained lots of hands-on experience,” said Barber. “I enjoy the intricate nature of Vascular Surgery. It’s a very technical, meticulous surgery that fascinates me.”
Barber was accepted into the Vascular Fellowship program at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, a nationally recognized leader in the vascular field. There, Barber gained extensive experience in advanced vascular techniques. After completing his Fellowship, Barber joined Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville, in August of 2014.
“My wife and I looked at different practices in the midwest and south, and we liked the friendly people and way of life in East Tennessee,” explained Barber. He is proud to be a part of Premier Surgical Associates. “Premier is a well run and extremely efficient practice, with top notch surgeons vested in the care of the people of East Tennessee and many opportunities.”
With 26 surgeons, Premier is the Knoxville area’s largest surgical group, performing general, bariatric, vascular, endovascular, vein, breast, laparoscopic, and oncologic procedures. Premier has offices in Knoxville, Dandridge, Maryville, Lenoir City, and Sevierville.
Barber said he and Megan are enjoying getting involved in church and the community in Knoxville. “I’m excited about the future. I see us being in Knoxville for the long haul.”