Doctor’s passion led to neurology after grandfather’s Parkinson’s diagnosis

For Jason L. Crowell, MD, working in medicine and fighting Parkinson’s disease are personal.

One of the newest neurologists on staff at Norton Neuroscience Institute, Dr. Crowell grew up watching his grandfather, a long-time physician, care for the members of his small Alabama community. dr Crowell saw firsthand, he said, “the relationships my grandfather built with his patients.”

When his grandfather was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a nervous system disorder that impacts movement and causes tremors, Dr. Crowell was already learning in school about the brain. He then decided to pursue neurology.

“A lot of what I was hearing at the time was secondhand from my aunts and grandmother,” Dr. Crowell said. “It was sad in many ways because he had always been, in our family, the one who had all the medical answers. I just wanted to understand [Parkinson’s] better.”

dr Crowell completed medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he went on to complete a fellowship in movement disorders after his residency at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. He especially took an interest in deep brain stimulation, a procedure in which electrodes are implanted in the brain to combat the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

He also wanted to learn more about improving patient care and the delivery of health care, which led him to earn a master’s degree in public administration with a focus on health care policy from the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

All that led to Dr. Crowell arriving at the intersection of medical and scientific curiosity and personal connection.

Norton Healthcare’s need for a second Parkinson’s specialist met Dr. Crowell’s desire to be closer to family in Alabama and Tennessee, and to treat people with the kind of personal care his grandfather demonstrated. His schedule filled out two-plus months before he even set foot in the office. dr Crowell said his first few months “have been really gratifying getting people help faster.”

“I try very hard to not treat a lab finding or an exam finding, and instead treat the patient,” he said. “I can prescribe medicines or tests all day, but if I haven’t answered the patient’s questions, have I done anything? I had a mentor who would say, ‘It’s only a good pass if your teammate catches it.’ Sometimes that’s just listening. People come to us with concerns; it’s our job to address them and provide them with reassurance.”

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