State Rep. Bryan Terry is a proud politician but, even more so, a proud doctor. And unlike most elected officials, Terry didn’t grow up in Tennessee.
“I am a tribal member of the Choctaw Nation, and that’s obviously being from Oklahoma,” Terry said. “I grew up in south Oklahoma City and went to school in Moore, which is a suburb of Oklahoma City.”
He spent most of his time as a kid either at his parents’ auto salvage, playing sports or at the hospital.
“I grew up with severe asthma, severe allergies. And so I was in the hospital off and on all the time, in the E.R. all the time.”
Terry’s allergies were so bad he had to have special equipment in order to do things other kids did all the time.
“I actually had a mask that I would wear and breathe through and go outside and play at a park during the winter when it was cold. So I would breathe in warm air while I played basketball. I mean, that was how bad it was,” Terry said.
It even kept him from playing some sports altogether.
“In middle school, I decided ‘I’m going to play football’ and went out for two days rolling around in the grass,” said Terry. “I still remember, ended up in the my doctor’s office, the Oklahoma Allergy Clinic. They had to give me a shot of epipen, and the doctor said, ‘You’re never going to play again.'”
Those severe allergies actually became the catalyst to make Terry pursue a career in medicine.
“I wanted to learn how to fix — fix me, fix myself — and then help others that had asthma and allergies like me,” Terry said.
So that was his goal. He went to the University of Oklahoma and, at first, wanted to become a pulmonologist, a doctor that specializes in the respiratory system. But that didn’t work out.
“When I was in the clinics, in the pulmonary clinics, like I said, you know, allergies, cold-induced, dander-induced asthma, smoke-induced asthma, I could not be in a pulmonologist office without having issues with my asthma,” said Terry.
Instead, Terry took a friend’s advice and looked into becoming an anesthesiologist. He interviewed for residency at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
“If I’m going to be somewhere, going to be working like a dog and I’m going to be miserable, I might as well be in a place that I can enjoy,” Terry said. “And so Knoxville, I thought, ‘OK, they’ve got football.'”
When he wasn’t at the hospital on weekends, he’d go to a Tennessee Volunteer home game.
“I ended up going to Peyton Manning’s last football game. I went to so many SEC championship games and other games,” said Terry. “My son was born right before halftime of the University of Tennessee vs. Florida game.”
Fast forward to today, and Terry is now an anesthesiologist with an office in Murfreesboro.
He always made sure to stay up-to-date with the latest politics, but it wasn’t until the 2012 election that Terry began to think more about it on a personal level.
“My son was in high school at the time, and I apologized to him. I said, ‘There’s not good messaging out there. And my generation is failing your generation. I’m going to see how I can, what I can do to make a difference,'” said Terry.
But Terry didn’t seriously consider running himself, until he attended a political session at a business conference. He spoke to a state and federal liaison, who suggested he run for office.
“I’m at dinner with my wife … and I said, ‘You won’t believe what they told me. These guys told me that I should run for office.’ And my wife looked at me, and she said, ‘Have you ever thought of it?'” said Terry. “And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.'”
Eventually, he came around to the idea.
“It took me a while to figure out this is something that I could do and still be an anesthesiologist and continue to work,” said Terry.
Terry went on to run in the 2014 District 48 Republican Primary. He won by around 450 votes and then won the general election, earning 67% of the vote to be elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. He is now in his fifth term representing Tennessee’s District 48 in Murfreesboro.
Outside of being a politician and anesthesiologist, Terry says he spends a lot of time listening to music, either while going on multi-mile walks or attending concerts.
“I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I can’t remember my first concert. My aunt took me, my sister and my cousin. We were all little kids. (She) took us to go see Andy Gibb and Shaun Cassidy. And so that was like, you know, in the ’70s,” Terry said. “But now, I’ve seen Elton John, Aerosmith, Mary … RUSH, tons of tons of different artists.”
Terry has two children, Brayden and Breeley. Every year, he goes on a vacation with his son, who is now an adult.
“Every year since he was age 8, we go on a guy trip just, you know, usually just he and I. Or when he was in college, it would be I would fly out to Colorado, and I would meet him. And his buddies would drive over, and we’d go skiing,” Terry said.