Cookeville’s Most Influential People – Dr. Michael Casal
If you’re from Cookeville, you’re as likely to hear the phrase “Dr. Casal” heard in conversation as to be asked the time.
The reason? Let me use a number to make it tangible.
That’s how many deliveries have been attended or overseen by Dr. Michael Casal.
He has dedicated his life to moms, dads, and babies for the majority of a 30-year medical career and when asked what he loves most about his role in the community, Michael gushed about those he gets to serve.
“My favorite part, especially in a small community, is getting to know my patients and their families. I share with them one of the most joyful moments of their lives but also some of the most trying and difficult times. I get to play a role in helping them build their own families.” Dr. Casal continued, “Being an OBGYN for me is not just coming in and delivering your child and calling it a day. It is holding your hand and encouraging you not to give up when you have issues with infertility and hugging you tight because you are losing another pregnancy. It truly is a calling for me.”
In heartbreak and joy, Dr. Casal guides family after family through the delivery process but is quick to point out he can’t do it alone.
“I advise friends of mine and young students to choose a career that you love passionately. Because when it is late at night, cold outside, when I am not feeling so well, when a patient and their baby needs me, I need to be ready,” he stated. “Our workload is so unpredictable and I rely tremendously on my wonderful staff.”
Dr. Casal sees his career as not only a service but as a means of inspiring the next generation of area leaders to set ambitious goals and pursue them with zeal and focus.
He reflected, “Growing up in a family that I would consider below the middle class, I had big dreams. I am entrepreneurial in nature and I always had dreams of having my own company and having control of my own destiny.” Michael continued, “I wanted the ability to provide a better life for my children, far better than I had as a child. I think I always had that immigrant mindset. I want to tell young people to dream big!! Dream a life bigger than your current circumstances and then go get it!! Dreaming in and of itself, however, is not good enough. You have to execute and this is where discipline and consistency will take you where you need to be.”
I gave Dr. Casal the opportunity to speak directly to the people of the Upper Cumberland as our interview came to an end, and while I couldn’t possibly fit everything he had to say about the families he serves in this short article, the portion of his response included below provides a snapshot into Michael’s heart and why he’s loved and respected throughout this community.
He stated, “I want to tell couples struggling with infertility and recurrent miscarriages that there is hope out there for you. Don’t ever give up. There is nothing more rewarding than having your own child. And all the difficulties you have had to endure, the emptiness you have felt, and the burden you have carried for so long, will be forgotten when you finally get to hold your precious little baby in your arms. It will all be so worth it.” Dr. Casal concluded, “It is so rewarding to deliver babies and see them take their first walk, watch them play sports, or, even better, get to coach them in basketball. I get to see them graduate from high school and college and see them getting married and being part of this great community. I have this wonderful opportunity to admire, just like a proud beaming father, how far my babies have come.”
– by Andrew Buckner, photos by Cris Stroud