Thursday, September 20, 2012
Ooltewah M.D. Thomas Klinner did not follow the usual path on his way to becoming a doctor. He didn’t graduate high school, he spent most of his 20s building houses instead of completing a residency — not beginning medical school until he was 33.
“I first got the idea in my junior year of high school,” he recalled. “I needed one extra credit and the only thing I could get was an elementary nursing class. I remember watching one of the doctors … helping a lady in a wheelchair and I thought it would be nice to help people like that. But the next year I dropped out of high school.”
After getting his GED, Klinner attended junior and community colleges, eventually earning a degree in business. He started his own business building houses, but when the market went south, a friend suggested a medical school in El Paso, Texas. Klinner needed only one more chemistry class to qualify, which he completed, and three months later he was studying medicine at St. Lucia’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences, though he was significantly older than most of his classmates.
“[The differences between the other students and I] showed up more in the residency than in medical school, because I was about 10 or 11 years older than all the other residents,” said Klinner. “I stayed in good shape. When it came time to work those 36-hour shifts I held up better than most of them. My goal was to get home to my wife as early as possible, so I started at a good pace at 7 a.m.”
He eventually settled in Ooltewah and has practiced in the Chattanooga area as a board-certified internal medicine doctor ever since. He also recently became board-certified in functional and regenerative medicine through the American Academy for Anti-aging.
Today, Klinner sees 30-35 patients per day, some of which come from miles away.
“We have patients from Nashville who have said, ‘I have been to every doctor and they can’t find out why I am doing this,’” said office manager Carol Malone.
Though he said he’s not against using prescription drugs, Klinner is a huge proponent of using natural remedies to treat his patients when possible.
“When you kind of understand how the body works, then you can reason to what might help fix the problem,” he said. “But you are kind of geared toward doing it with a prescription drug. The difference between that and functional medicine is that functional medicine looks down inside the cell, because that’s where it all starts.”
Klinner’s patients come to visit because of a variety of common sicknesses, many because they are overly stressed, tired, anxious or depressed and they want to know why. Oftentimes, said Klinner, there is a nutrient deficiency or some other natural cause to his patients’ physical problems.
“It’s nice because sometimes I fix people,” he said.
Klinner Medical is located at 9203 Lee Highway and can be reached at 415-1883.