COOKEVILLE – Rest easy. One of Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s newest physicians is an expert on sleep. Dr. James Davis, a sleep specialist, joined the hospital staff earlier this year – and is the only physician in the Upper Cumberland whose practice is solely dedicated to sleep medicine, a specialty that’s seen “radical” growth over the last decade, he says.
That’s good news for patients suffering from a wide range of sleep disorders – there’s more than 80 recognized today – from sleep apnea, one of the most well known, to REM behavior disorder, where people act out their dreams.
“Sleep is so critical for our health – the quality of it and the amount of it,” Davis said.
Davis’ new office is located within the hospital’s Sleep Center, at 100 W. Fourth St., Suite 350, but he’s no stranger to the area. Davis, a Fayetteville native, attended Lipscomb University in Nashville as an undergrad and received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. He completed a residency in internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Graduate School of Medicine in Norfolk – and practiced in that specialty for several years – before his fellowship in pulmonary medicine at the VA Medical Center in Salem.
He even spent a few years practicing pulmonary medicine in the Upper Cumberland in Livingston. Davis and his wife had always kept their home in Cookeville – with the goal of winding up back in the area one way or another.
“We had made the decision several years ago that, ultimately, we were going to end up in Cookeville,” he said. “We just liked the area. I think it’s a hidden secret that I would just assume not too many people know about.”
In 2004, Davis went back to school and completed a sleep medicine fellowship at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Sleep medicine wasn’t even considered a specialty when Davis did his residency or pulmonary fellowship, but it was quickly gaining enough traction that he wanted to get on board.
“I was doing pulmonary (medicine) with a little bit of sleep, but it was at that point that I began to realize I didn’t really know enough about sleep medicine to do it justice,” he said. “If I was really going to do this, I needed to get more training. I’ve watched the sleep textbooks on sleep medicine get bigger and bigger. It keeps growing.
“It is an advantage, that I’ve done some other things, that I did my training in intervals,” he added. “I did internal medicine for several years, and I did pulmonary for years and years. The other backgrounds do come into play in sleep medicine. Plus medicine is continually changing, so I think the fact that I have done my training intermittently, that’s helped keep me sharp.”
Having a sleep specialist on site will also benefit patients in many ways, Davis said. Most importantly, he’ll be able to spend more one-on- one time with them – without worrying about another specialty pulling him away.
“I don’t try to manage a patient’s diabetes, heart disease or lung disease. I just focus on sleep,” he said. “It appeals to me because some sleep disorders, we can actually fix. Sleep apnea, for example, is so wide spread, and treatment
can have such a dramatic effect. To have people come back and say, ‘Wow, this has really changed my life.’…You don’t always see that in other specialties.”
In addition to Davis, the Sleep Center is under the directorship of David Henson, M.D., a specialist in pulmonary and critical care medicine as well as sleep medicine, and employs 11 registered polysomnography technologists. Dr. Vijay Rupanaqudi is also affiliated with the Sleep Center. Davis himself anticipates a high growth curve for the Sleep Center’s future, especially as awareness of various sleep disorders spreads.
“Sleep medicine’s exploded over the last 10 years. And I think, to a large degree, there’s an untapped demand here,” he said. “We need to offer this service. There’s room for it to grow quite a bit, and I think the hospital recognizes that. I could see, over time, this evolving into a very busy practice.”
Dr. James Davis is a sleep specialist at Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s Sleep Center, 100 W. Fourth St., Suite 350, Cookeville. For more information, call (931) 783-2753 or visit www.crmchealth.org/find-care/centers-excellence/sleep-center/about.