Mountain Hope’s new physician’s assistant got his training in an unexpected place — the U.S. Coast Guard.
Jason Brackins, PA-C (the C stands for Certified) grew up in Gatlinburg. He loved the water and fishing, so after school he joined the Coast Guard. He trained as a nurse in 1998. The Coast Guard sent him to Physician’s Assistant school at Fort Sam Houston, TX from 2001 to 2003, and he’s worked as a PA since then. Recently he retired from the Coast Guard after 24 years’ service.
He and his wife, Karen, have two children approaching high school age, and they decided to return to Gatlinburg. The children, Liam, aged 13, and Avery (who is known as Q), aged 11, will attend Gatlinburg-Pittman High School when they are old enough.
Karen, a nurse, has volunteered at the Clinic during health fairs. “We’re happy to be back in East Tennessee and we’re blessed to be able to work in this Clinic,” Jason said. He feels the fit is so good that it was meant to be.
The patients are different from those he encountered in the Coast Guard. His clientele there was basically healthy. Those who developed serious illnesses were often discharged. “Mission ready, combat ready really was the goal,” Jason said.
Now he’s dealing with a mix of people, some healthy, some with chronic diseases. But it’s rewarding, and his patients at the Clinic are grateful for their treatment. Though adding a full-time PA to the Clinic staff means more patients can be treated every day, “we don’t want to sacrifice quality (care) for quantity,” he said.
His spare time is spent being a “Superdad,” he said, ferrying his children to sports practices and events. He has not lost his love of fishing, either. He’s giving up his saltwater fishing gear but intends to make the most of East Tennessee’s lakes and rivers.