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Introducing Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Nathan Tagg, USU’s New Neurology Department Chair

Army Lt. Col. Nathan Tagg, chair of USU’s Department of Neurology, recently meets with Barbara Shelton, Neurology’s Administrative Officer. (Image credit: Akea Brown)
Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Nathan Tagg first worked as a chemical engineer before he decided to go to medical school and discovered his interest in neurology. Now the chair of the Department of Neurology at Uniformed Services University, Tagg talks about his career and his advice for future leaders in the Military Health System.

Q. Tell us, where are you from?
A. I spent the first 19 years of my life in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Q. What led you to a career in military medicine?
A. I had always wanted to serve, though I didn’t come from a military family or a town with a very large military presence. Before I started medical school at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine, I felt compelled to look into joining the military. My plan was to fulfill my minimum obligations, but I’ve had such great opportunities over the years, and wonderful leadership – here I am, 18 years later.

Q. What interested you in the field of Neurology?
A. When I was in medical school, I really didn’t know that much about neurology. I started taking a neuroanatomy course and found that I just had this inherent interest in it. I really enjoyed learning about it and studying it. I was going back and forth, considering other specialties, but having worked for a few years as an engineer, previously, I found that neuroanatomy and neurology had that same problem-solving approach, which I really loved, and so that was what drew me to the field of neurology. Then, I went on to specialize in neuro-ophthalmology and neuro-immunology.

Q. Who do you consider to be your greatest mentor, or mentors?
A. I have two mentors who stand out in my mind. After completing my residency in neurology through the National Capital Consortium in Bethesda, I went back to Iowa for a neuro-ophthalmology fellowship at the University of Iowa, where I had professors Andy Lee and Randy Kardon, and they were both fantastic, providing their outstanding expertise. They both had a really big influence on me.

students sit in a classroom listening to someone speak
Army Lt. Col. Nathan Tagg, chair of USU’s Department of Neurology, advises future leaders in the Military Health System to “never forget who we serve.” (Image credit: Akea Brown)

Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. My greatest achievement is definitely my family, my five kids, and my time spent with them. That is my most satisfying achievement. I’m also proud to have been able to mentor other residents, but in my career, I hope my best achievements are yet to come.

Q. What are you most excited about for the future of neurology in the Military Health System?
A. In our field of neurology, we are looking to find new ways to expand our capabilities and use innovative techniques, like telehealth. I also see neurology as the last frontiers of medicine. Because there is so much we continue to learn about, especially with the brain, we are constantly making new, exciting breakthroughs. There are a lot of diseases that were once completely disabling, but are no longer disabling, thanks to these greater technologies and new breakthroughs. We can now give those patients a much better quality of life. I’m really excited about the future of neurology and how we can apply these exciting breakthroughs to the military.

Q. What advice do you have for our future leaders in the Military Health System?
A. The advice I have for future leaders in the Military Health System would be to never forget who we serve. Everything we do needs to be aimed at those who have made such great sacrifices, and their family members who stand alongside them, and they should always remember that.