About: Our Providers

Julie E. Higgins (Formerly Swindler), M.D.

Dr. Higgins (Formerly Dr. Swindler) is MBL’s President, founder and head physician. She completed medical school through Northeastern Universities College of Medicine in Ohio during which she did extensive published research which she received honors through Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation which received honors. She then completed family practice residency through the University of Louisville rural track program of Glasgow, KY. During her residency Dr. Higgins learned how to treat all ages of patients from newborns through geriatrics which set the foundation for treating patients ages 7-65 in bariatric medicine. She also worked as sole emergency room physician for various rural ER’s in southern Kentucky and as one of the family practice physicians in a children’s psychiatric hospital prior to her subspecialty training in bariatrics. She has received her formal bariatric training through the prestigious Cleveland Clinic Foundation, the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, and through mentorship with Dr. Allen Rader in Boise, Idaho. She is board certified in bariatric medicine by the American Society of Bariatric Physicians after having passed all oral and written examinations as well as site reviews set forth by the ASBP. Dr. Higgins enjoys sharing her knowledge of weight loss with local physicians, medical professionals, and the public through various training sessions and speaking engagements. If interested in having Dr. Higgins speak at your function, contact us at (859) 263-SLIM (7546).

Cassie L. Graham, A.P.R.N-F.N.P

As an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) with MBL, Cassie Graham has always had a desire to care for others. Actually, one could say it's "in her blood", as her sister, who is also a nurse, supported and encouraged Cassie to pursue the field.

That desire sent her to Western Kentucky University, where she completed her bachelor's degree in nursing in 2009. Just recently she graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a master's degree as a Rural Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).

Cassie soon began working as a Critical Care Nurse and received experience in emergency, oncology, burn, trauma, post-surgical, telemetry, neurology and orthopedic nursing. This demanding job strengthened her bedside manner by providing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual support to patients, especially those who did not have friends or family to support them.

Although her experience as a Critical Care Nurse was very rewarding, she wanted to challenge herself even more by seeking a different role in healthcare: the preventive side. "I quickly recognized that the majority of the patients I had the opportunity to care for had diseases that could have been prevented with lifestyle changes," Cassie said. "I pursued a nursing degree in family practice and from there recognized that I wanted to sub-specialize. When the opportunity to work at MBL presented itself, everything 'clicked' and I realized that my education and personal passions were directing me here."

Cassie is impressed with what Dr. Higgins (Formerly Swindler) and MBL has been able to accomplish with its patients. "MBL has unbelievable results with decreasing (and many times eliminating) significant disease risks, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and many more," she said. "What an opportunity I have been given to assist others on their journey to a long, healthy life!" Cassie believes that many people don't believe they can lose weight because they've struggled with obesity for years and have either not seen great results or have regained all the weight they may have lost. "I think another misconception is that in order to lose weight you have to starve yourself and exercise 3 hours a day," she added. "At MBL we teach medical weight loss methods that are safe, realistic, and have a long-term focus. It's not about giving up your life to be 'skinny', it's about living a healthy life and making healthy choices."

One piece of advice Cassie would like to share with the MBL patients is that choosing to pursue weight loss is not a hobby but a lifestyle decision that should be lifelong. That being said, she adds, "Don't expect yourself to be perfect or make all the right choices. Lifestyle change is a gradual process, and if you tackle too much at once it will be more challenging to maintain over the long haul."

When Cassie's not helping MBL patients along their weight loss journey, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her 1-year-old son. Since her family loves the outdoors, you might find them camping out, walking or biking. Cassie and her husband are also aspiring to complete the Bike Trek in Shakertown. She also enjoys cooking (she tries 2 - 3 new recipes a week), Bible study, and home decorating.

Chelsea Rust, A.P.R.N-F.N.P

From a young age, Chelsea Rust had a natural fascination with the complexities and miracles of the human anatomy. That initial interest ultimately led to her pursuit of a career in the medical field.

After she graduated from the University of Kentucky with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, she worked as an RN in labor and delivery for eight years. Caring for expectant mothers, high-risk pregnancies and women in labor was an amazing and fulfilling experience—which also led to an alarming discovery. Chelsea witnessed many patients with chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity, which could have been avoided and/or managed with lifestyle changes. That realization compelled Chelsea to pursue a graduate degree in the Rural Health Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Eastern Kentucky University where she would educate herself on how to improve her patients’ overall health.

Now Chelsea’s desire to help patients become the happiest, healthiest versions of themselves has come full circle. She is thrilled to join Dr. Higgins and her staff to assist patients achieve their weight goals and reduce their risk of chronic health problems as well. “It's so rewarding to watch people make positive changes for themselves,” she said. “Being able to prevent someone from being diagnosed with a chronic condition or helping them eliminate a chronic diagnosis is amazing.”

According to Chelsea, most patients believe that leading a healthier lifestyle is too daunting. “We are a busy culture with a lot of reliance on processed or fast food due to convenience. Most people think it takes several hours a day to make quality, nutritious meals and another few hours sweating in the gym,” she said. “What they don't realize is that there are ways to eat well and stay active that don't require a huge amount of time.”

Chelsea understands people get frustrated trying to lose weight on their own but knows first-hand the benefits of improving one’s health. “About five years ago, my husband and I decided we needed to make a lifestyle change because we found ourselves eating a lot of processed food, exercising intermittently, gaining weight, and feeling tired all the time,” she said. “We donated all of the ‘garbage food’ from our pantry, bought loads of produce and locally grown meat, and entered into a rigorous exercise program. We began feeling better, buying smaller clothing sizes, and found tasks we used to struggle with (such as carrying heavy things) were easy and even fun. I realized that if I could guide others to have this ‘Aha!’ moment, they could improve their quality of life, too.”

Her favorite quote is “It always seems impossible until it's done" by Nelson Mandela. “This was my reminder throughout graduate school to keep working towards my goals, but it's also very applicable for patients who feel like taking that leap and changing their lifestyle is impossible.”

When she’s not working, Chelsea and her husband enjoy raising their toddler son on their farm. They have pigs, sheep, and chickens and hope to get some cattle and goats in the near future. She loves cooking delicious, nutritious meals with food grown on their land. You can find her exercising, powerlifting, or hiking at Raven Run with her son on her back. She enjoys traveling and going on adventures such as kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling with sea turtles.