Mike Seese is an Army retiree, Nocatee resident, physician assistant at Lyerly Neurosurgery and medical aesthetician at Ponte Vedra’s own Youthful Medical Spa.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I was a hospital corpsman in the Navy when my direct supervisor got accepted to PA school. That opened my eyes to the profession, but the local program was very hard to get into and quite expensive. Fast forward five years, I had completed nursing school, had changed over to the Army National Guard and again, my direct supervisor got accepted to a PA program. This time, it was the military program, the Interservice Physician Assistant Program, or IPAP, that trains the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard PAs. I was nearly finished with a BS in biochemistry at the time. The IPAP was struggling to get students to pass the biochemistry portion of the curriculum at the time. This set me up to get accepted on my first try. This was an active duty program, which meant I had the incredible fortune of being paid to be a student. I owed the Army six years of National Guard time, which got me one tour in Iraq. From a medical standpoint, that tour ended up being one of the highlights of my professional career. I retired from the Army in 2018 after 25 years of service.
What sparked your desire to specialize in spinal neurosurgery?
In spinal surgery, I really enjoy how we can change people’s lives by reducing their pain and increasing their mobility.
And how did you get involved in medical aesthetics?
Medical aesthetics accidentally fell onto my plate. A colleague at the hospital was opening a spa and needed some help covering weekends. The schedule worked for me, and it was a totally new area of medicine that has incredible appeal because, unlike most other clinic positions, people are really happy to be there! I enjoyed the atmosphere and satisfaction of providing an immediate benefit that made people happy.
What do you enjoy most about working and living in the Ponte Vedra area?
The clients we have at the spa are fantastic. While many are locals from Ponte Vedra and the Beaches, I also see a lot of clients that drive from Amelia Island, Orange Park and Palm Coast. I think our team of really talented nurse practitioners, PAs and aestheticians is the difference that draws people in from the surrounding areas and keeps them coming back. We aren’t commission-based, which puts our focus on delivering the best service that is most appropriate for each individual person we see. My wife, Stephanie, and I were drawn to the Ponte Vedra area and moved here in 2017 when we got married. Back in March we built a house in Nocatee’s Twenty Mile neighborhood.
What do you find to be the greatest challenge within your industry?
COVID-19 has certainly introduced a whole new level of challenges, but I think the world is tired of hearing about that. PAs and nurse practitioners will always have an identity challenge, because we aren’t the doctor or the nurse. Some people just aren’t aware of our role and question our expertise. I think the best way I can mitigate this is with patient education. Not just by telling patients what my role is, but educating them on their situation. By going over their anatomical issue, explaining why some things are happening, explaining in normal terms how to address the issue and how they will get through this time in their life. People realize just how invested in their success I am, and this helps them to recognize the profession. The ability to spend a few minutes and connect on a personal level is a feature of my job that too often is skipped over in some practices because of overloaded schedules.
Tell me more about what you like to do in your free time.
My family loves water sports. All of my kids enjoy reeling in a big fish. If I’m not working, you can likely find me in blue water trolling for wahoo, tuna and mahi or dropping down for cobia or snapper. I’ve been a scuba diver for years and enjoy diving for fossils. I have a pretty awesome collection of large megalodon teeth that I’ve found diving around the East Coast. I recently talked my wife into getting SCUBA certified and took her for an awesome hammerhead shark dive in the Bahamas for her first open water experience. Hard to top that for a first dive!