Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Shopper Client Stories


A physician is part bartender, part priest, part mom, part coach

by Rob Lauer

Julius Miller, MD, FACP

Julius Miller, MD, FACP

Upon first meeting Julius Miller, MD, FACP, a string of adjectives come to mind: friendly, funny, warm, kind, interesting and attentive. In short, this physician at Chesapeake Internists LTD is the kind of person everyone wants for a doctor. His upbeat energy is so infectious that even one's first conversation with him feels like a reunion with a friend from the past.

If Dr. Miller's breezy bedside manner seems like a welcomed relic from an earlier time when physicians and patients enjoyed a special bond, the credit could go to his biography. "My father was a physician who started his practice in 1957," Dr. Miller says. "My mom was a physical chemist who had worked for Bell and Howell in Chicago. She was actually smarter than my dad- and he was brilliant."

Despite this pedigree, a career in medicine was not necessarily a given. "When I was a kid, I dreamed of doing a couple of different things where I grew up," Dr. Miller reveals. "For a while, I thought of becoming an astronaut, but I get seasick, so I'd never make it through the training. Playing basketball crossed my mind, but I'm too short. But I always had an interest in science, so from about age 12 on, I worked in my father's office. Sometimes I manned the front desk, and later on, I even learned to draw blood.  When my dad was on call at the hospital, I followed him around." In time, he decided to follow his father's footsteps into medicine.

After high school, young Julius received his undergraduate degree from Old Dominion University.  He did research and took classes at the Medical College of Virginia, and then attended Eastern Virginia Medical School. In recalling how he decided which medical field to pursue, Dr. Miller's self-deprecating humor is evident.

"Becoming a surgeon seemed like a pretty exciting choice- not to mention heroic- but I'm not too coordinated, so that was out," he laughs. "In the end, it came down to a choice between pediatrics, which I love, or internal medicine. But in pediatrics, one is always dealing with the vulnerability of kids in bad situations; I didn't think my heart could take it, so internal medicine it was."

Dr. Miller completed his residency at Jewish Hospital of St. Louis at Washington University. In 1991, he joined the practice at Chesapeake Internists. Currently, he is on the Board of Directors and volunteers at Chesapeake Care Free Clinic. He also works with Eastern Virginia Medical School educating PA and Med students.

Dr. Miller admits that the life of a physician in the 21st century is quite different from the life that his father led.

One of Dr. Miller’s stunning photos

One of Dr. Miller’s stunning photos

"My dad's whole life was medicine," he recalls. "Because Dad worked all day, he never made it to any of my sporting events. My generation and the generation after me don't want to lead lives that are consumed by work. I don't know that people now have the same sort of love for the medical profession. Face-to-face communication between doctors has dropped off because of email and the internet. In my dad's day, he would go to the doctor's lounge in Norfolk, and his colleagues would discuss cases they were working on, share tips from their experiences and give suggestions for possible treatments. There was a true sense of community in the local medical profession. It was a very different time. That sort of collegiality has been lost."

Such changes, of course, must be balanced in light of the great advances made in medicine over the past several decades. "So many surgeries and treatments are now performed as outpatient procedures," Dr. Miller points out. "When I was in medical school, if someone had a heart attack, their chance of surviving was only 50 percent. The odds of survival are so much higher now."

The single unchanging constant that Dr. Miller believes is essential is for the physician to have a close, positive relationship with patients. "You must have their trust," he insists. "They must feel comfortable with you; must feel as if they can open up to you."

 "we get to know people better
than many others do.
We learn things
they'd never tell anyone else.
That is such an honor."

- Julius Miller, MD, FACP

Dr. Miller's genuine friendliness, his sense of humor, and his willingness to share of himself promote such a relationship. This self-sharing is even evident in his office's decor: the beautiful photos that adorn its walls are his own creations. "Why do I have my photos on the walls of my office? Because my wife won't let me hang them at home," he quips with a laugh.

"Actually, photography started as a hobby after I finished high school," he recounts.  "It was a way to get out into nature and relax. I began by taking black and white photos- and even developing my own film." As time passed, photography became my release. I stay active doing other things. I play on a soccer team- and I'm the worst player ever! But with photography, I can really "get away' from it all and relax. If we're out hiking on a family vacation and I see something to shoot, my family goes on and I take pictures. You don't realize how much beauty there is out there until you start looking at the world through a photographer's eyes."

"Originally, I bought in some butterfly photos I'd taken to display in the office's bathrooms," Dr. Miller continues. "My office manager loved them, so I brought more photos to hang in the hallway. They're all nature shots: sunrises, sunsets, butterflies and birds.  I think when my patients come in, they find those images relaxing. I can relax people and bond with them. It's one of the most beautiful things about medicine."

"I think a physician is part bartender, part priest, part mom, part coach," Dr. Miller concludes. "We can't make anyone do anything, but we can help our patients understand their medical condition and try to guide them through the treatments we think will most benefit them.  In the process, we get to know people better than many others do. We learn things they'd never tell anyone else. That is such an honor. And when people want to become patients because friends and family members that you've treated have recommended you- well, that is truly an honor."

When patients look at the beauty of nature as seen through Dr. Miller's camera lens and framed on his walls, they relax. They know they are in the right hands.

Chesapeake Internists, Ltd.

113 Gainsborough Square
Chesapeake, VA 23320