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“Find the tunnels less traveled and stay” With Dr. Cedric “Jamie” Rutland

People always look for the “light at the end of the tunnel”. I caution here because once you leave the tunnel, the suspense is over. You…


People always look for the “light at the end of the tunnel”. I caution here because once you leave the tunnel, the suspense is over. You are side by side with everyone else. My advice — find the tunnels less traveled and stay. Find the light in the dark and stop seeking the end because it is just that, the end. Keep moving. Keep studying.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Cedric “Jamie” Rutland. Dr. Rutland is a Pulmonary and Critical Care physician based in Southern California and currently serves as the National Spokesperson for the American Lung Association. His clinical expertise is focused on the evaluation of complicated cases in Interstitial Lung Disease, pulmonary intervention and severe asthma.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path as a doctor or healer? How have your personal challenges informed your career path?

I knew I wanted to attend medical school in the fifth grade. I wrote it down and slapped it on my grandparents’ refrigerator. Once I didn’t grow taller than 6 ft 1 and the NBA was not an option, Granddad said, “don’t forget what you put on the fridge, boy.” My career in pulmonary/critical care medicine stems from an event during my first year of medical school. I was out on Halloween night in Iowa city and received a phone call from my aunt. She said to me that “your grandfather is going in for surgery. Tell him you love him”. He became dependent on a ventilator and eventually was unable to wean and he died. I never went home to be at his bedside in California as he was dying. I wasn’t there. When I think about my career now, I love to be at the bedside of dying patients to talk with the family and talk about their life. I feel as if I am constantly chasing a bedside, I am never going to catch. I’ll probably write a book and name it “Chasing a bedside I am never going to catch”.


Can you share five pieces of advice to other doctors/clinicians/healers to help their patients to thrive?

Three is a number of harmony so I always give 3 pieces of advice but I will add 2 more

1. Understand you are always learning. If you are not learning and studying new things, you are doing your patients a disservice

2. There is no such thing as after hours. If there is something you can do, do it, no matter the time.

3. Your best ability is availability

4. Things happen beyond our control. People try so hard to be perfect but I find being perfect and not making mistakes impossible. Perfection is in your response to imperfection.

5. People always look for the “light at the end of the tunnel”. I caution here because once you leave the tunnel, the suspense is over. You are side by side with everyone else. My advice — find the tunnels less traveled and stay. Find the light in the dark and stop seeking the end because it is just that, the end. Keep moving. Keep studying.


Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?

Your personal story helps you relate to patients and their families. Transparency is important. In fact, a group of social media doctors including me has launched a #verifyhealthcare campaign. We understand the public receives 43% of their medical information on social media. We wanted to be clear with regards to who we are and what we stand for. Sometimes, letting people in can be hard. I have a decent following on Instagram (@drjrutland) and a Youtube channel, “Medicine Deconstructed.” Despite what I have accomplished professionally and personally, my audience does not have to agree with my opinions and they will let me know. You have to be confident in your points of view to be able to deal with criticism.



Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?

My favorite life quote at this time in my life is “Success is intoxicating, but to sustain it requires sobriety.” You cannot get lost in your own success. Do not spend too much time patting yourself on the back because you won’t challenge yourself enough. Another quote that I thought of is “have the perfect response to an imperfect life.” In pulmonary/critical care medicine, we perform a lot of procedures and they have complications. If you have a complication, you have to be able to deal with it. You cannot think you will be perfect all the time. People in medicine do not want to make mistakes, but I find that perfection lies in your response to imperfection, not just being perfect.


You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Emphysema took the life of my grandfather, the man who I considered to be my father when I was a first-year medical student. There was a funeral I couldn’t attend. A family, my family, I couldn’t console. A goodbye I would never get to say. Ever since that day, I have been chasing a bedside I know I will never be able to catch.

At a time when the dichotomy between physician and patient/family seems to have accelerated, I have come to a deeper understanding of why, as a physician, my relationship with both patients and their families is one of most important bonds I will ever have. In my continuous quest for knowledge, I have not only carried with me my desire to reduce the occurrence of lung disease and its effects on the community, but it has been my own personal mission to humanize medicine –to translate difficult physiology into understandable terminology and to equip those affected with debilitating disease processes with the knowledge they deserve to take control of their health. Every day, I dedicate myself to this mission because every breath is worth the fight.

Physicians and other medical professionals spend so much time presenting to one another that we often lose sight of who we should be educating, the patient. I spearheaded “Medicine Deconstructed”, a YouTube channel specifically targeted to the average patient where I discuss medical topics in terms that are easy to understand. I want patients and their family to know as much as I do in a fraction of the time — without the use of haughty medical terms that need a dictionary to understand. I have a passion for education and it is my intent to share this information about current diseases and its prevention to as many people as I possibly can.

Environmental changes and new productions will assist in the evolution of lung disease and I believe the methods I have used to connect with my patients to understand these changes have minimized generational disconnects — I have held the hand of an 80-year-old widow and virtually hugged a 31-year-old lung transplant survivor who reached out to me on social media. I believe my efforts bridge the generational gaps between the Baby Boomers, Millennials, and generations to come by incorporating a social media outlet to augment “Medicine Deconstructed”. This platform not only spreads medical education and awareness but mentors and engages those who will soon grasp the health of our lungs in their very own hands to not only learn but to motivate them to act. 5…4… 3…2…1… GO…

When I think about a movement, I think about my life, all of the ups and downs, as I pursued my education. I didn’t expect to become what I have become and did not expect to be what I am right now. What I do know is that I am in constant pursuit of understanding medicine and make it my life’s mission to humanize it the best way I can thus ensuring that what I lacked in knowledge as a first-year medical student will be the gain of the community I am privileged to serve now.


Lungs are my lifeline. They gave me my first heartbreak and my worst fear. They give life to my wife and to the two little girls that build Lego towers in my hallway. I educate. I motivate. I fight for humanity because every breath breathed is a longer life lived.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@drjrutland on Instagram and twitter

Medicine deconstructed on youtube

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Originally published at medium.com

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