The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

When the Doctor Becomes the Patient

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Kelly Adams, an epidemiologist and neonatologist turned writer. Dr. Adams recounts her journey to medicine and how her career was brought to an untimely stop due to medical bias and misdiagnosis.

  • [01:00] Dr. Adam’s Medical Journey
  • [04:51] From Doctor to Patient
  • [09:20] Planning for Disability
  • [12:53] How to Reduce Bias in Medicine
  • [17:00] Dr. Adam’s Advice to Pre-meds and Medical Students

From Medical Professional to Professional Patient

Five months after completing her neonatology fellowship, Dr. Adams had a mini-stroke and was rushed to the ER. The doctor misattributed her condition to migraines and failed to conduct an echocardiogram. Several months later, Dr. Adams experienced a major stroke and discovered that she had a heart tumor. To address the tumor, she had to go through open-heart surgeries. This whole ordeal left her with only half of her vision. Dr. Adams could not continue her career as a physician. It took her several years to accept what had happened.

Disability Planning

Thankfully, Dr. Adams had both short-term and long-term disability insurance policies before her strokes. As the sole provider for her family, the insurance was a big help to their finances. Getting a stroke is not a common occurrence for young professionals, but accidents may happen. It’s always better to have a plan in place to prepare yourself for unexpected situations.

Avoid Misdiagnosis in Medicine

Dr. Adams advises physicians to be open to correction and learning. By deferring to the most common diagnosis all the time, you are bound to make a mistake along the way. Listen to your patients and their families. Set aside your pride and judgment. By changing the way we process information and the way we relate to our patients, we can make more careful decisions.

Reach out to Dr. Kelly Adams by sending her an e-mail at [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. For more resources, visit

Got questions, feedback, or suggestions? Send a message to Dr. Erkeda DeRouen’s Instagram or MedSchoolCoach’s Instagram.

Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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