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Jennifer Darling: A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare

We hear a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Jennifer Darling on this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast with Rob Oliver. Jennifer is from Northern California. In addition to joining Rob to share her perspective as a patient, she is a LinkedIn expert in real life (you will hear Rob mention seeing her on LinkedIn at the end of the interview.) This is interview 35 in the Guinness World Record setting interview marathon.

Here are 3 things that stood out as Jennifer Darling gave us a patient’s perspective on healthcare:

  • Sometimes it’s important for the patient to empower themselves. This is possible through education as well as seeking alternative treatments that are outside of traditional medicine and may not be covered by insurance.
  • Jennifer’s “Healthcare Hero” is her general practitioner who treated her with a holistic approach, taking into account her life beyond the current symptoms. They connected on a human level.
  • Medical professionals need to take better care of themselves to combat stress and burnout. One strategy would be to form communities where they can share experiences and alleviate stress which will help improve the quality of healthcare their patients receive.

You can connect with Jennifer Darling on LinkedIn, just like Rob did:


Here is the text of my conversation with Jennifer Darling as she gave us a patient’s perspective on healthcare:

Introduction to Jennifer Darling

Rob Oliver: Welcome to the podcast, my friend.

Jennifer Darling: Hey, Rob.

Rob Oliver: How are you doing?

Jennifer Darling: I’m doing fantastic. Thank you.

Rob Oliver: Wonderful. What is your name?

Jennifer Darling: I’m Jennifer Darling.

Rob Oliver: Excellent. And where are you joining us from, Jennifer?

Jennifer Darling: I am joining you from beautiful and sunny Northern California specifically. I am now located in Redding, which is near the beautiful Mount Shasta and Cascade Mountains.

Rob Oliver: Okay, wonderful. Now tell me, what’s the weather in Northern California today?

Jennifer Darling: Well, shockingly, it’s 68 degrees. And the reason I say that is because last year at this time I think it was 100 deg and I was already out in the swimming pool. I have not been in the swimming pool yet because we’re having a really mild spring. Usually it goes from winter right into summer, but right now it’s mild and it’s just absolutely beautiful outside.

Rob Oliver: Yeah, well, I am glad that it’s mild. I’m glad that it’s not beastly hot, but I hope that you’re able to get into the swimming pool relatively soon.

Jennifer Darling: Me too.

Tell me about yourself and your experiences as a patient in healthcare

Rob Oliver: All right. So tell me, can you give me a little bit of information about you and about your experiences in health care, please?

Jennifer Darling: Yes, absolutely. So a little bit of information about me and especially as it pertains to my experience in healthcare, is that for a long time I was the manager of a Fortune 50 company and other very big corporations, and I had a lot of stress I was dealing with in those jobs and a lot of trips to the doctor and two specialists and everybody else under the sun to help me with anxiety specifically. And it was pretty much an uphill battle of having to really fight for myself and get the care that I need. Although I will say I had a really amazing general practitioner who I’ve been with for 25 years.

Rob Oliver: Okay. So when you say that you had to fight for yourself, who were you fighting with, if you don’t mind me asking?

Jennifer Darling: Yeah, I’ll say generally health care, because if you think of 25 years ago, really, nobody was focusing on wellness or mental wellness as much as they are today. And a lot of what might happen is if you’re feeling anxious, you might be getting all different kinds of prescriptions to help you with that anxiety or whatever, that just doesn’t feel like it’s totally working for me personally. And medication certainly helps with anxiety. But I think one thing that is interesting is that today now there’s a lot more alternative and holistic approaches and physical approaches to your mental health. And 25 years ago, there weren’t those things. So while I felt really cared for by my general practitioner, I felt that I could go to specialist after specialist after specialist and never really getting any answers to help me support myself for what I needed.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. Unfortunately, I think that you gave me exactly the answer that I was expecting, which is that within the health care system, there are a number of wonderful people who are doing their job and have a heart for healing, and they really want to help people, but it’s navigating the system in which they exist and in which they operate. What’s your reaction to that?

Jennifer Darling: 100%! In fact, I put a little notes down of what we might talk about today and some things that came up for me. And one of the big restrictions is, quite frankly, insurance companies. My doctor can only do so much because there are protocols that she has to answer to. And so what I’ve done, Rob, is I went and sought my own health, my own medical treatment and so private medical treatment. So I still pay my insurance premiums and go to my doctor when I need to. But in this last year, Rob, I’ve done a number of things. One, I have signed, I go to an IV vitamin clinic now, and every other week I get an IV vitamin treatment, and I get vitamin C, twelve shots and hydration. And that’s really made me feel better. I go to a chiropractor who my insurance doesn’t cover that. I work out with two different personal trainers, like all these things. I’ve personally have invested in my own finances, and not everybody can afford that. I’m happy to be in a position where I can, but they’ve made a really big difference in my life when I’ve been able to choose the healthcare treatments that I’m getting.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. I think the piece that you said in there is you decided that you are in a position where you have the ability to go seek more than what is available just through your health insurance. That’s very powerful. I mean, you take ownership of it, right. You’re empowering yourself to say this may not be within covered services, but it’s something I need and it’s something that has enough of a positive impact on me that I’m willing to pay for it. And that is ultimately kind of taki ng the Bull by the horns to really say that this is my life and my choices and this is where I’m going to go.

Jennifer Darling: Yes. I remember when I called my doctor and I said, oh, I’ve also actually hired a functional nutritionist, a Chinese medicine doctor, lots of things that were normally outside of my even perception of what I should be doing. There we go. Sorry, Rob. I have so many different devices going on here. No problem. It should be good now. So when I went to see these other people, what was happening is they were giving me answers to problems that had existed, and I would go see a medical doctor, a Western medical doctor. And what I would find is they would find that they had the same diagnosis as what the Chinese medical doctor or functional nutritionist have. So they were both in line. But one could help support me with things and the other couldn’t because they had to go see a protocol. So for example, Chinese medicine doctor would say that you need B twelve injections, you’re severely deficient B twelve. And I’d go to the regular doctor and, well, they had to send me to get more test, blah, blah, blah. They couldn’t do anything about giving me a vitamin shot. But now I can go on my own to the clinic and pay for my own vitamin B twelve shot. So I just said if I have to go to the doctor and go through the insurance, I will. But everything else, I just seem to seek out my own support.

Rob Oliver: Yeah, well said, it’s both empowering and it’s sad all at the same time.

Jennifer Darling: Yeah, exactly.

Have you encountered any Healthcare Heroes?

Rob Oliver: So in your healthcare journey, have you encountered any healthcare heroes?

Jennifer Darling: I am going to say my general practitioner, even though I know she has some limitations for insurance, but there’s some things that she doesn’t have limitations on and that is her time. So whenever I go into see her, I feel really well cared for with her. We don’t just talk about what’s happening to my body, we talk about what’s happening in my life. And sadly, she announced that she was retiring when I was there to see her a couple of weeks ago. And she gave me a huge hug and she told me she loved me and I just thought that was so touching. She knows me so well and I’ve been a patient of hers for a long time. She told me she loved me and then she also told me that she was wishing me the best life. And I just walked away bittersweet, feeling like I’m so thankful that she got to be my doctor for 25 years and I got to be cared for her and we got to know each other on a personal, human level. And the bitter part was that she was no longer going to be my hot doctor. And now I have to go through the painstaking challenge of trying to find a new doctor because where I live, there’s a shortage here. But my doctor, Runal Adams in outgrowth California, sees my superhero.

What does quality healthcare mean to you?

Rob Oliver: all Listen, I’m just going to insert a little blurb here. To say to know you is to love you. Who wouldn’t love you? And there’s no coincidence of the fact that your last name is Darling. Okay, that’s all I will say. What does quality health care mean to you?

Jennifer Darling: Yeah, it means to me, looking at the whole person. And I’m going to guess that a lot of interviews you get. I think people are feeling the same way as we want to be looked at as a whole person, not just what’s happening to my body, which is what we get a lot from traditional medical society health care. But I want to be looked at my body, my mental awareness, what’s just going on with all of me. And sometimes treatment isn’t in the form of a pill. Treatment might be looking at other things as well. That would be the quality of health care and promoting and supporting things beyond just going to the doctor, getting your prescription and leaving. But what else can we do to really take better care of our bodies and our minds?

What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?

Rob Oliver: The holistic thing. You’re definitely not the first person to bring that up. And I think it’s a very powerful statement. What do you wish that your medical providers understood about you?

Jennifer Darling: What do I wish that they understood about me? I would love them to know to educate themselves more probably in two areas. One is on mental health. It is May Mental Health Awareness Month, and to educate themselves more on mental health because I think a lot of my physical issues has come stemmed from my mental health. And so if they could understand and know that connection, I think that would be a lot better. That would be one thing. The other thing I already forgot the other thing. So the first thing was so important, Rob, that that’s what it was.

Rob Oliver: You know what? The first thing that you said was powerful enough that it’s enough of an answer that it will suffice for the whole question. And the second thing would have been just like the cherry on top. Your Sunday is complete without a cherry on top. The cherry on top would have been okay. I was going to say the other alternative. It could be like the sprinkles, although just random curious thought for you.

Jennifer Darling: I like peanuts.

Rob Oliver: Okay. Peanuts on your Sunday works here in Western Pennsylvania. Sprinkles are sometimes called Jimmy’s. What are they called out there in California?

Jennifer Darling: Sprinkles.

Rob Oliver: Okay. And is your preference to go with the rainbow sprinkles or the chocolate sprinkles or what would be the Jennifer Darling choice?

Jennifer Darling: Rainbow sprinkles.

Rob Oliver: There you go. Okay.

Jennifer Darling: They must have a lot of color.

What can medical providers do to improve the quality of healthcare their patients receive?

Rob Oliver: Well said and well stated. My last question for you is what is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?

Jennifer Darling: Wait, no. Unequivocally. Okay. I’m not going to use such a big word. Okay. Take better care of themselves.

Rob Oliver: Okay. All right. Tweetable moment right now, anybody who’s watching Who Wants to Live tweet what we’re talking about. Medical professionals need to take better care of themselves. Can you talk to me a little bit more about that?

Jennifer Darling: Yes. They are in an overwhelmed position. There’s a lot of stress. There’s a lot of things going on in medical facilities, especially in the last few years with the pandemic. And they do a pretty good job of taking care of us. They have their limitations, as we said, with insurance. But the medical people, healthcare professionals as people take really good care and they care about everybody else, but they need to take better care of themselves. They’re getting stressed out. They’re getting burned out. They’re overwhelmed. I have some clients and some friends who are in emergency room doctors, and they see it all the time. They’re not taking breaks. They’re understaffed. So much is going on and they need to take care of themselves and their mental health and their mental illness and their physical wellness. It should be number one priority.

Rob Oliver: Okay, Jennifer, in like 30 seconds. Can you tell me the system is what Burns them out within the system that makes them work double shifts and puts them in a place where they can only spend 15 minutes with patients and puts the constraints on them. Do you have any practical suggestions of ways that they can take care of themselves?

Jennifer Darling: Yes. Get together with other professionals in their field and talk to each other. So one of my clients, Dr. J. B. She owns an organization called Hope for Med and it’s all about healthcare professionals getting together and working together with each other to understand and talk about what’s going on in their world because they are different than we are. So it just makes more sense to be able to share because when they share when they get into community, when they’re able to unload their stress, when they’re eating better, when they’re taking better care of their bodies, they’re going to let off some of that stress and they’re going to be able to come and enjoy their work again. Enjoy their patients again.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. And it makes them much more capable of making the human connection when they are feeling themselves, if that makes any sense.

Jennifer Darling: I think so, Rob. I think that they’re suffering from the same afflictions of all of us. Stress burnout overwhelm so many people are struggling from those. So if they start to focus on themselves, they’ll also see what we as patients are going through too.

Rob Oliver: Yeah. Okay. Listen, Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today. I will see you on LinkedIn because I know that’s where we’ve got to go and that’s your forte. I appreciate you joining me. I appreciate you helping me to break this record and I respect your perspective on health care.

Jennifer Darling: Thank you, Rob. Have fun with Scott, your next guest. Bye.

Rob Oliver: Thanks. Bye.

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Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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