• 54°

Andalusia native returns home as surgeon

Tara (Goodson) Harden said she knew long before her graduation from Andalusia High School in 1997 that she wanted to be a doctor.

Now, 13 years later, she has returned to serve in the place she calls “home.”

The daughter of Bill and Cathy King and Gary and Ann Goodson, Harden has spent the last five years in Mobile finishing her general surgery residence. She attended both the Univer-sity of Alabama and medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She said it was difficult to narrow down her specialty choice.

“I pretty much knew for most of my life that I wanted to be a doctor,” Harden said. “I ch-anged my mind a couple of times on what kind of doctor. Later, I realized a couple of years ago that I needed to do something with my hands, but I didn’t want to give up patient interaction.”

Dr. Tara Harden

Her decision – general surgery.

“It’s really the best of both worlds in medicine for me,” she said. “I really enjoy it. I’m not the doctor that you come and see when you have a cold. I’m the doctor you come to see when you have a specific problem that requires surgery.

“And I think that’s why I chose it because you get to see a patient from start to finish,” she said. “When they come to me, they have a problem, and I can usually fix that problem fairly easily. And then, I get to see them get well and move on.

“That’s what I enjoy about surgery,” she said.

When one takes into consideration that she and husband, Jared, who is a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., have a 20-month-old son, Porter, it’s no wonder the couple elected to move back to Andalusia.

“Family is so important to us,” Harden said. “My whole family lives here. We’re extremely close, so having them around is nice. Of course, they wanted the opportunity to play grandparents, so they are ecstatic.

“When I left to go off to school, I didn’t think I would come back home,” she said. “I was leaving this small town in the dust, but your priorities change when you have kids. In this situation, everything worked out. The job opportunity was there, and the laid-back small town lifestyle, too.

“Turned out, I’m not necessarily the big city girl that I thought I was when I left,” she said. “I’m very glad to be back and eager to get to work.”

Harden will practice in the same group as Dr. Timothy Day and Dr. Ashton Wells and will operate at Andalusia Regional Hospital. She will begin her practice “as soon as the provider numbers for insurance” are ready, which she expects will happen in the coming days.