By SARA ARTHURS
CAREY — Growing up, Dr. Troy Puckett liked that everybody knows everybody in Carey.
“A lot of people don’t like that but I do,” he said.
After his education and starting his career, the 38-year-old moved back home and began practicing at Carey Medical Center.
He said Carey is the kind of town where you can leave your door unlocked, or your keys in the car. As a child, he enjoyed “the securities and freedoms that come from being in a small town.” Everyone is looking out for everyone else, even if they’re not doing it consciously, and his parents “rightfully” allowed him to ride his bike around town with his friends, as the community was safe.
Moving back, as an adult, some things appeared different. In some ways, he found “people aren’t quite as comfortable” in the little town as they were when he was young, or as it seemed they were. And he acknowledged Carey is not immune to crime. But for the most part, it’s still the same town.
“A lot of it’s all still the same,” including an abundance of town pride and school spirit, he said.
Puckett is a 1997 graduate of Carey High School, where he participated in football, track, choir, school plays and musicals, Spanish club and art.
He is now the high school’s team doctor, which he feels is a great way to give back to the community. And he likes getting to know the athletes. But, yes, if they are hurt and need to sit out a game, he does have to be the one to tell them. He can empathize, though: “I know what I would have felt like.”
Puckett came to the conclusion he wanted to become a doctor while he was a student at Carey High School. He enjoyed science, biology and “knowing how things work.” So he liked learning about the body and how it works, and enjoyed being able to share and educate others in ways to take care of themselves.
He strives to promote a healthy lifestyle including exercise, diet and avoiding smoking and drinking. “Just being that voice for people” may help solidify things they already know they should do, he said. Of course, the fact that they know they should do it doesn’t always mean that they do.
Puckett said he may not convince them right away but will “continually encourage.”
Sometimes they do follow his advice, “and when they do, it’s a great feeling” at that follow-up appointment, when a patient says they tried something he suggested and it worked. At the same time, he said, you must recognize it isn’t your life, it’s theirs, and all you can do is give them the tools.
But he has found that the small town creates some accountability in getting people to follow doctors’ orders. If someone is standing in line at Subway planning to order a footlong meatball sub, but then notices their doctor in line behind them, chances are they’ll change it to a 6-inch veggie, he said.
Puckett said his work allows him to get to know people — although, of course, in Carey he already knew many of them.
“There’s only, like, two levels of separation,” he said.
People do pose questions to him when he’s off duty, out and about in the community. But, he said, most people are respectful of boundaries and he truly doesn’t mind the occasional question.
“That’s the idea of a small-town doc,” he said.
Puckett likes being able to build the types of doctor-patient relationships that are possible in a small town. He does know them in many capacities in the community and said it’s a “more special bond.”
Puckett went straight from high school to undergraduate work at the University of Toledo before going to medical school at the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University, where he received a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree with training as a family practice doctor.
Between medical school and returning to Carey, he spent seven years serving on an Air Force scholarship, first three years in residency at an Air Force base in Florida, then two years in family practice at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, before going to Wright-Patterson in Dayton for two years.
He got “some bigger-city living” experiences in Florida and North Carolina, as well as in Dayton. While big cities have their advantages, Puckett prefers the small town. After all, in Carey, he can park at a grocery store and leave his keys in the car.
He moved back to town almost five years ago and is active at his church, the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation.
He also spends some of his spare time coaching sports. And he and his wife, Jamie, are more than two years into the process of renovating a home built in 1880, so that also consumes much of his time.
Puckett said he enjoyed growing up in a small town, so was drawn to it as a place to raise his own kids. Harley, 14; Dash, 9; Mace, 8: and Rory, 5; all go to the Our Lady of Consolation school, just as Puckett and his wife did, although next year Harley will attend Carey High School.
Jamie is from Carey, too, and the couple have known each other since kindergarten.