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Roy Deel, D.O.

From coal miner to small town doctor

 


“I was a coal miner like lot of other people here in Dickenson County, Virginia,” says internal medicine physician Dr. Roy Deel. “It’s a different path to becoming a doctor, but that’s my story.”

His interest in medicine started when he became an EMT at the mines to save his job when layoffs were predicted. The mine companies were required to have someone trained for medical emergencies on-site. When the mines finally closed, his aunt suggested that he consider becoming a registered nurse.

“I left my job with no other job to fall back on, no income and went to school. I worked three part-time jobs, got my associate’s degree and started working as a nurse at the old St. Mary’s Hospital in Norton,” says Dr. Deel, who prefers that people just call him “Roy.”

His desire to provide a higher level of care for the people in his rural Virginia county encouraged him to pursue medical school with plans to return and work among the family and friends he grew up with. Now, he says one of the perks of practicing in his familiar community is running into patients outside the office and having the chance to talk with them and listen to their stories.

Still, he points out that being an internist in a rural area can be tough. “We don’t have specialists here. For doctors like me, you are the specialist. You’re the cardiologist, the pulmonologist - you’re all of it, so it’s a very big responsibility.”

He also has a passion for caring for the elderly.

“Older folks will come in and tell how they’ve been mowing their yard or working in their garden and I feel like maybe I’ve been a little part of them being able to do that,” says Dr. Deel. “I just love coming to work because I’m doing what I love to do. This is home.”