James I. Harding, MD
"I believe in treating the patient not the X-ray."
James Harding, MD, traveled an unusual route to medical school. After earning an undergraduate degree in architecture, he worked as a carpenter, architect, and builder for ten years. During that time he joined the volunteer fire department in Tyringham and, as he recalls it, "I realized what we did was mostly medical calls. So I became an EMT. I liked it a lot, being able to work with people and to be able to help them." He resolved to make a career change and, with the passage of another ten years, most of them spent at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, he emerged as Dr. Harding.
"I like taking things that are broken and fixing them," he says. "I always joke that they should have given me a year off in residency because I already knew how to use the drill and saw." That said, he doesn't take a mechanics view of medicine: His is a people-centered approach to doctoring. "I believe in treating the patient not the X-ray," he explains. "I like talking to people. I believe in letting the patients take charge and decide how they want to proceed. I give them their options and educate them so they can make informed decisions."
He treats a range of trauma cases and also does knee and hip replacement surgeries, most for older patients. As preventive advice for an aging population, he recommends people work to maintain their balance and flexibility. "If you have them as you go into old age, you'll be less likely to fall and more likely to bounce if you do."
Although fairly new to the area as Dr. Harding (he arrived at Berkshire Health Systems in 2005), he has known Berkshire County most of his life. His family maintained a second home in Lenox during his childhood, coming north from Manhattan for weekends and vacations. Today he resides in Lee with his wife and four school-age children.