The path toward practicing medicine for Cedric “Jamie” Rutland, MD, FCCP, was strewn with what looked like a series of roadblocks. But those would-be barriers turned into Dr. Rutland’s guideposts, showing him the way to a career that might not have been found without them.
As the CHEST 2023 Keynote Speaker, Dr. Rutland will share stories about that journey—as well as his unique approach to medicine and medical education—in his address, “Diversifying the Application of Medical Knowledge,” during the Opening Session at 3:15 pm, Sunday, October 8.
He knew from a young age that he wanted to be a doctor. (Well, maybe also a professional basketball player.) Family health problems, including a grandfather who died from emphysema, led to Dr. Rutland’s initial interest in medicine: He wanted to understand what they were going through and why.
“Growing up, I was never really picked for things,” he said. “So, in medical school, when I realized people were starting to look up to me, it was a new experience.”
While Dr. Rutland’s CV looks carefully planned, he casually refers to every step in his career path as “unintentionally intentional.”
He is a board-certified pulmonary, critical care, and internal medicine physician and owner of Rutland Medical Group and West Coast Lung, a private practice in Newport Beach, CA. He also owns Medicine Deconstructed Productions, a company that produces medical education for health care companies and the general population.
He has a digital footprint that has expanded his reach and influence in the field of pulmonary medicine. He has almost 88,000 followers on Instagram (his handle is @drjrutland) as well as tens of thousands of subscribers to his YouTube channel, Medicine Deconstructed.
Dr. Rutland’s path went in an unexpected direction at CHEST 2016 in Los Angeles, where he made an impression on some Genentech executives at an after-hours event, and they invited him to be a speaker. During a speaker training a couple of months later, he was called on to demonstrate teaching a slide deck. Steven Nathan, MD, FCCP, Medical Director for Inova Medical Group Advanced Lung Disease Program and Lung Transplant Program, observed that presentation and had high praise for Dr. Rutland.
“Steve Nathan is like the godfather of pulmonary fibrosis,” Dr. Rutland said. “He infused a confidence in me that I could communicate about medicine.”
He started taking speaking gigs, consulting, and doing on-camera medical communication work. All the while, he was practicing medicine at a large group practice. Wanting to accommodate both his newfound work and his love of practicing medicine, he left the group, started his own practice, and created a schedule that would allow time for his ever-diversifying set of skills.
“I realized that not putting all my eggs in one basket, in other words, just the bedside basket, allowed me to withstand some of the pressure, too, of being a Black physician in an area that is not predominantly Black,” Dr. Rutland said.
Along with his digital presence, his relationship with CHEST has grown over the years. He recently achieved the status of Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (FCCP), a credential he appreciates for the professional credibility that comes with having it after his name.
“Obtaining an FCCP allows you to be taken more seriously in the community,” Dr. Rutland said. “It has helped me build a bridge between the worlds of academic and community medicine.”
Doreen J. Addrizzo-Harris, MD, FCCP, President of CHEST, is thrilled that Dr. Rutland is the Keynote Speaker for CHEST 2023.
“He’s so dynamic. He has kept his foot in many areas—he does critical care, he does outpatient pulmonology, he is involved with industry,” Dr. Addrizzo-Harris said. “And he’s also taken to the media on topics that I think are really important, and I think all of our members can get behind.”
And all Dr. Rutland’s efforts are leading to his ultimate dream of bringing medical education to a new level. He wants to move from lessons that teach how to react to a disease and the havoc it wreaks to teaching how to prevent the damage in the first place through immunology.
“I want to teach the cell-to-cell communication that takes place before the end organ is damaged,” he said. “You do that by understanding immunology, which needs to be at the forefront of every field. I am here to apply it to pulmonology to make patients better.”