The Real Deal Series: Interview With Jill Blake

doctorThanks for joining me in this next installment of The Real Deal interview series. If you haven’t already, please check out the utterly awesome (and hilarious) interview I had with Stuart Land. Now, for our next guest, not only is Jill Blake a doctor (physician) from the beautiful state of California, but she’s a contemporary romance author as well! The links to Jill’s info and books will be below the interview.

So, let’s get to it!

The Real Deal: Jill Blake, Physician

Thanks so much for joining us today, Jill. I guess I should start off by asking if you are a general practitioner or specialist?

I’m a family physician – I see everyone from cradle to grave, do routine office gynecology, and assorted lumps & bumps (skin things).

Neat! Although I’ll avoid asking about the assorted lumps and bumps, I am interested in when your day starts–and when does it end?

I typically start seeing patients at 7:30 a.m. in the office.  My last appointment of the day is around 4:45.  After that (and during lunch, as well as in between patients, if I have time), I do call-backs, prescription refills, review of labs and other results, and charting.  Usually I don’t leave the office until after 7 pm.  In addition, I work urgent care about once every 2 weeks: either in the evening, from 5:30p to 9:30 (or 10p), or on the weekend, 10am – 4 pm.  I also take call, on average one night or weekend every 2 weeks.
As the use of hospitalists has increased across the country, many of us (FP’s & internists) have stopped seeing patients in hospital, preferring to concentrate on the outpatient setting.  That said, I still see my more complicated patients who are admitted, though more as a “consult” to assist in the coordination of care, or provide information and guidance to families when it comes to end-of-life decisions.
I still see newborns in hospital, this gets fitted in either before or after office hours.  In addition to all the clinical work (and paperwork involved), I have some administrative duties.  These include: teaching medical students who rotate through our office (average one afternoon every other week); managing/coordinating staff issues, as I am the lead physician in our office; serving on various hospital committees (infection control, medical ethics, bylaws, etc); attending our group practice business/board meetings either before or after office hours approximately twice a month.

So the workload isn’t purely walking the halls of a hospital or taking care of patients in your office. When they do come to see you though, what would you say are the most common ailments they come to see you for?

In urgent care, it tends to be acute stuff:  colds, flu, stomach pain, chest pain, asthma flares, headache etc. In clinic, it tends to be for preventive care (physicals, paps, well child checks), and  chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, COPD, depression, and follow up/monitoring of various cancers.

What has been your most interesting, exciting, or nerve-wrecking day as a physician?

Every day!  That said, I think the highest adrenaline days tend to be when I have a fully booked office schedule, urgent care in the evening, and someone walks in at 4:45pm with acute chest pain.  Though we see fewer heart attacks (probably because of better primary or secondary prevention, including managment of risk factors with statins, blood pressure medications, anticoagulants, etc), there is still the occasional acute coronary syndrome patient whom we have to ship off in an ambulance to the ER.

Ahhh…I think I’m getting fretful just reading about how hectic your day can be! My hat off to you and to all hard-working physicians. Now, you’ve got to tell me, are there any portrayals of doctors in books and movies (as far as character or mannerisms) that you think are exaggerated or inaccurate? Is there such a thing as a doctor stereotype?

Dr. House — seriously??
Also, much of medicine is not high-drama, cue the fast music with driving drum-beat, even in the ER.  There’s a lot of routine stuff, and way too much paperwork.
The stereotype of the “rich doctor” – waaaaay off-base. When you consider the expense and time of education and training (4 years of college, 4 years of med school, 3-7 years of residency depending on the specialty,1-3 years of fellowship), most physicians I know start practice in their mid-thirties with a massive debt ($300,000 +, not including interest).

I’m not going to complain about my measly loan now…

Compared to their peers in other professions, that means they’ve already lost a decade of productivity.  Considering the current medical economic climate, with declining reimbursements across the board and the continued crippling burden of malpractice insurance/litigation (and the politicians wonder why we still practice “defensive medicine”?), the “rich doctor” is pretty much an urban myth.

It’s interesting you say that, because I grew up with my family encouraging me to go that route, and there is definitely a lot of admiration and prestige attached to pursuing medicine. I know as writers we sometimes carry some of those ideals into our portrayals of doctors, but do you think there are procedures, protocols, or terms that have been butchered or misportrayed in books and film?

YOU DO NOT “SHOCK” A PATIENT WHO HAS FLAT-LINED.  The paddles are for arrythmias like VTach.

What? No way! No…”CLEAR!” and then the shock? Aww, man! All right, then tell us at least three things fiction writers actually get right about doctors 🙂

  • Doctors and hospital administrators often do butt heads.
  • Medicine has one of the highest rates of burnout, with all the attendant problems of divorce, alcohol and drug addiction, and suicide.
  • Those doctor-nurse hookups?  Yep, still happening.

No wonder we love doctor-dramas! Tell us something we might be surprised to know about those in your profession.

Most of us go into medicine because we love it:  the intellectual challenge, the desire to help people, the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day that you’ve done something good and worthwhile.  We do not go into it for the money.
And those of us who stay in medicine stay for those same reasons.

Well said, Jill! Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions. Folks, as I mentioned up above, the good doctor is also a contemporary romance writer. Check out her books at Amazon, visit her blog, and enjoy!

Share your thoughts!