Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Jessica Sparks landed in a great practice for a young doctor when she was fresh out of residency two years ago. At Lakeside Clinic, she had access to advise and opinions from seven physicians, most of whom are very experienced. That teamwork aspect of medicine is what she will miss most as she strikes out on her own as the sole physician of Marshall Primary Care.
Local doctor excited to open her own practice next to Marshall Medical
By Rose Myers
Marshall Medical Centers
Jessica Sparks landed in a great practice for a young doctor when she was fresh out of residency two years ago. At Lakeside Clinic, she had access to advice and opinions from seven physicians, most of whom are very experienced. That teamwork aspect of medicine is what she will miss most as she strikes out on her own as the sole physician of Marshall Primary Care.
“The providers have been very good to me,” Dr. Sparks said. “It’s nice to work with so many people if you want to ask questions or get a second opinion. Everyone works together really well there. They have a good sense of family and community, and I will certainly miss that.”
Marshall Primary Care will open July 15 in suite 350 on the third floor of the Medical Plaza next door to Marshall Medical North. She is very excited about the prospect of building her own practice from the ground up.
“I’m really looking forward to having my own patients and being able to comprehensively care for them and follow along with them for the duration,” Dr. Sparks said. “I strongly believe in the importance of the patient-doctor relationship, and in treating the entire patient—not just the disease. I am dedicated to providing my patients with quality and compassionate care.”
Dr. Sparks expected to be part of a small practice when she finished residency, thinking she probably would be an employee of a hospital in a one or two-person practice. As she was weighing her options, she had a chance to visit Lakeside Clinic and met with Dr. Alex Nixon.
“Within five minutes I knew this was who I wanted to work with,” she said. “It felt like such a good fit for me.”
Met her mentor as a teenager
At the age of 16, fibroid tumors led Dr. Sparks to see an Ob/Gyn, who eventually became her mentor and changed the trajectory of her life. Dr. Sharon Callison took the teenager under her wing, encouraged her to shadow and told the girl she could do anything.
“No one outside of my family had really talked to me like that,” Dr. Sparks said.
The experience of shadowing her mentor led the high schooler to decide she wanted to be an Ob/Gyn but she soon learned she didn’t enjoy being in the OR. She learned other valuable skills that she has been able to apply to her own patient care.
“I loved the way she treated people, the way she made them feel,” Dr. Sparks recalled. “I realized that her being my mentor was about more than what she could teach me from a medical standpoint. It is about how you treat people, how you take care of them and make them feel important.”
The mentor relationship extended to Dr. Callison eventually delivering both Dr. Sparks’ babies.
Eight years ago, Dr. Sparks married her husband Blake, a Boaz native and an engineer at Boeing. They live in Guntersville with their two little girls – Charleigh, 3, and Payton, 1, plus two dogs and a cat. They met while in high school and once she graduated from DAR she followed him to Auburn. They married while she was in medical school.
Dr. Sparks completed undergraduate studies at Auburn University, earned her MD from UAB, and then completed residency at Huntsville. She is board certified in Family Medicine.
As a youthful looking 30-year-old, Dr. Sparks has found that some patients struggle to take her seriously.
“No one believes I’m the doctor,” she laughed. “They all want to ask me how old I am and how can I possibly know what I’m talking about? I try to explain to people that I did the same amount of training as the older doctors but it’s hard for them to believe.”
Other patients very much appreciate that she’s a more recent medical school grad and has studied the most current information. “That’s really refreshing,” she said.
Being from Grant is a definite plus. Local patients really appreciate a homegrown doctor.
“You’re a lot more trustworthy right off the bat when they know you’re from here,” she said. “When I first started at Lakeside, people wanted to know how old I am, am I married, do I have kids, where I am from, etc. They want a whole background check before we can talk about their cough. You’re a lot more valid if they know you’re from here and one of them.”
Marshall Primary Care will accept patients of all ages. The office can be reached by calling (256)571-8500.