One's an Ole Miss Rebel. The other is a Georgia Bulldog.
One comes from tiny Belzoni; the other, the “big city” of Brandon.
But what they have in common better defines their lives. Both Dr. Tim Ragland and his wife, Dr. Katie Ragland, are UMMC graduates, radiologists at UMMC Grenada, and parents to newborn Emerson Rose.
The Raglands are the only husband-and-wife physician team at UMMC Grenada, where they divide their time between the main hospital campus and the hospital's Imaging Center, a nearby building where all radiological services are offered.
Two days a week, Katie travels to the Jackson campus as part of her one-year fellowship in breast imaging. The other three days, she's on duty at UMMC Grenada, a 156-bed facility that in fiscal 2015 cared for 3,053 inpatients and tallied 30,799 clinic visits.
“I always thought I'd be a big-city person. In high school, I planned to move to New York,” said Katie, 32. “I started medical school at Cornell. I liked it, but I missed home. The University of Mississippi was gracious enough to let me transfer back, and I met Tim on the first day of medical school.”
They married during their medical school training, then finished five-year residencies at UMMC in May 2016, reporting to UMMC Grenada on July 1. Their decision to practice in Grenada was an easy one, 31-year-old Tim said.
“We really liked working for UMMC, but we didn't need to stay in Jackson,” he said. “We wanted to go somewhere smaller. UMMC Grenada met our criteria, and we were thrilled to be offered jobs here.”
“I'd already decided that New York was not for me,” Katie said. “We just realized together that we wanted to be in a small town and raise our family. Grenada is about as small as we can go. It's hard for two radiologists to work in a super small town without a long commute.”
Staff at UMMC Grenada had the Raglands on their radar. “We were in our third year of residency, and they offered us the jobs. We jumped on it,” Katie said. “I was in the middle of applying for fellowships elsewhere, and I stopped the application process.
It's not uncommon to have married couples in the medical field, “but to have them both in the same field, such as radiology, and practicing together is somewhat unusual,” said Dr. Timothy McCowan, professor of radiology and the Raglands' supervisor.
“Our exposure to them during their residency training was very in-depth, so we knew how outstanding they were, and we were very fortunate to be able to recruit them,” he said. “They are exactly the type of residents we'd like to retain as part of our faculty. The fact that they are interested in a somewhat different type radiology practice - community radiology - is pretty unusual and will benefit the Grenada community immensely.”
Katie knew she wanted to be a radiologist early in her medical training. “I went into medicine because my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 16,” Katie said. “She died when I was a freshman in college. I saw personally what it did to her.
“I wanted a job where I could help people going through that. My dad was a radiology tech, and I knew that there was a branch dealing with women's imaging.”
Tim initially wanted to be a pediatrician and “go back to the Delta to practice. But, it turned out that I really enjoyed radiology more.”
At UMMC Grenada and the Imaging Center, the Raglands diagnose diseases by reading CT, MRI, ultrasound and X-ray images. They also perform biopsies and venous catheter placements, with Katie's main focus being breast biopsies and imaging.
As Tim gives input, Katie examines a patient's mammogram scans at UMMC Grenada's Imaging Center.
Grenada is considered a small- to medium-sized community by Mississippi standards. It can be challenging, McCowan said, to practice radiology somewhere even smaller.
“When you go into a small community and you're not affiliated with a larger group, it can be overwhelming,” McCowan said. “You don't have backup for coverage on vacations or taking call, and it's difficult to have appropriate triage for the complicated cases. The Raglands are part of our faculty, and they maintain a robust affiliation with UMMC.”
It's hard being separated from Katie the two days a week that she's in Jackson for her fellowship, Tim said. “Today she's in Jackson, and it's sort of sad,” he said. “Eventually, we'll both be here and work the same hours every day.”
Said his wife: “People ask if we enjoy being together 24 hours a day. We love working together. We sat together in med school the first two years, and we've done all our training together. It's been really fun to have a partner in the process who understands the demands.”
Katie is the only breast imaging fellow at the Medical Center. “I love doing breast imaging, but man - I miss him,” she said of her husband. “We drive to work every day. But, this is temporary. At the end, I'll be breast fellowship trained.”
Juggling work and a new baby is easy, thanks to their family ties. “Katie's parents moved here from Brandon, and they keep the baby,” Tim said of Bill and Sheila Morgan. “Their house is on the way to the hospital. We just stop by and drop her off.”
UMMC Grenada is a 156-bed facility that in fiscal 2015 cared for 3,053 inpatients and tallied 30,799 clinic visits.
What sets UMMC Grenada apart from other hospitals?
“You work a lot more closely with the physicians here. Everybody knows you by name,” Tim said. “It's more of a personal relationship with the physicians, and the same is true for patients.
“You see patients here, and then you see them at Walmart,” he said. “It's nice. You know more about them when they come to the hospital, and they know the same about you.”
Having the Raglands on staff is not just a boon to the community, McCowan said. “It's an opportunity to let some of our trainees who wouldn't normally be exposed to a community practice spend time here with them. Otherwise, we couldn't show them how to practice in a small community. You can't do that in Jackson.”
Grenada is home for the Raglands, even though they've been in town only a few months. They've found a church family. They've gotten a house and settled in. “It's nice. No traffic,” Tim said. “As long as they'll have us, we'll be here.”
“We hope this is the last job we'll ever have,” Katie said. “We're so excited to be here.