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Doctor marks 50th year of practice

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Even though he sees more than 100 patients per week and is the only doctor in town, Dr. James E. Moody calls his current workload a "vacation" compared to the care he has provided over the last half-century.
Moody, 76, recently celebrated his 50th year of practice with a reception at Addison Medical Center, a division of Woodland Medical Center of Cullman. Moody, the only family practitioner in Addison, practiced in Hartselle for 38 years.
"I see probably 100 to 175 patients each week from Addison and all around," Moody said. "But I don't do nights, weekends, hospital rounds, deliveries or surgeries anymore, so it's really like a vacation for me."
Moody said there was a time when he made three or four house calls daily, aside from his other duties, and has delivered both mothers and their children.
"I guess it has been 50 years," Moody said with a smile. "Things sure have changed a lot."
Woodland CEO John Heider said a doctor practicing for 50 years is relatively unheard of.
"Most doctors don't complete their residency until their early 30s and then retire in their 60s," Heider explained. "The max most doctors work is for 30 or 35 years, so Dr. Moody is definitely an exception to the rule."
Moody said he made the decision to go into medicine while in the Navy as a young man. He completed his residency at age 26 and practiced as a surgeon until 1988 when he developed pain in his wrists. He established his practice strictly as a family practitioner in Addison eight years ago.
"I didn't want to just retire," Moody admitted. "And I don't plan on retiring anytime soon. I don't know what I'd do if I did, so I doubt I'll ever completely retire."
He and his wife Joan have been married for 53 1/2 years and have three children, four grandchildren, and are expecting a great grandchild "any day."
"She probably isn't ready for me to retire either," Moody chuckled.
Dr. Kelly White, who recently established his practice in Cullman, practices internal medicine for patients age 13 and older. He offered to help Moody by admitting patients for him and making hospital rounds.
"It's a good way to meet people in the community and help a great doctor and man," White said. "To be as influential and as well known as Dr. Moody is truly amazing."
For doctors like White whom are just starting their practices, Moody said honesty and integrity are a young doctor's most valuable resources.
"Medical knowledge has become so prevalent with the Internet and television," Moody admitted. "So when you talk to a patient, you have to make sense and be reasonable and rational. Admit when you don't know something and think before you open your mouth, because patients don't hold doctors in such high esteem as when I started out and just believe everything they say."
Moody also believes there is more to being a good doctor than just book smarts.
"Anyone with intelligence can make it through 12 years of college and master the science of medicine," Moody said. "Success comes with the art of medicine. You have to form a relationship with patients and amass their trust over a period of years. Start out that way and the art of medicine will distinguish a good physician from a bad physician."