The Flight Surgeon: Darin Kennedy, MD, FAAFP

Darin Kennedy, born and raised in Winston-Salem, NC, is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Bowman Gray School of Medicine. After completing family medicine residency in Roanoke, Virginia with Carilion Health System, he served eight years as a United States Army physician, first as a flight surgeon for 1-10 Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas for two years before working with basic trainees at Fort Benning, Georgia and training the next generation of army family physicians at the Martin Army Community Hospital Family Medicine Residency. He wrote his first novel in the sands of northern Iraq while deployed with 101st Airborne Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I from 2003-2004.

The CME experience for this Podcast is powered by CMEfy – click here to reflect and unlock credits & more:

Working on medical billing can be stressful for healthcare providers. It can distract you from your primary focus, which is your patients, and any billing errors you make can land you in hot water.

Now no more. Introducing Growing Innovation Health Solution

GI Health Solution is a comprehensive medical billing solution that allows you to shift the burden of collections off of your shoulders, so you can focus on patient care.

Count on GI Health Solutions for handling your medical billing. They have the experience as well as the expertise to help you manage all your billing-related chores in a highly professional manner.

Their expert team will handle all of your codings, claim follow-up, and billing issues to ensure you receive your payments on time.

Streamline your medical billing and increase your practice revenue by up to 30%.

So, reach out to Growing Innovation Health Solutions today to help your medical group improve profitability and eliminate administrative burdens.

Visit their website: for a free consultation!

MD Coaches, LLC provides leadership and executive coaching for physicians by physicians to overcome burnout, transition throughout your career, develop as a leader or meet your individual goals. Remember, you are not in this alone. Reach out to us today!

PHYSICIANS BY PHYSICIANS. It showcases unique physician talents, whether it be in the form of writing, painting, creating cookie masterpieces, or storming capital hill in the name of healthcare advocacy. Use promo code RxforSuccess to get three months free when selecting the monthly option.

All The Tools You Need To Build and Scale A Integrative Health Business
Get a behind the scenes look at our playbook at Texas Center for Lifestyle Medicine to see the underpinnings of how they deliver health while keeping team members fulfilled.
Find out more at

After leaving the military in 2008, he joined the faculty at Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center Family Medicine Residency in Charlotte, NC where he has continued to train family medicine residents for the last 14 years in addition to taking care of his own patient panel. He embraces the generalist nature of family medicine, enjoying pediatric, adult, and geriatric patients alike, and relishes his role as the go-to person for minor surgical procedures in the office.

His first published novel, The Mussorgsky Riddle, was born from a fusion of two of his lifelong loves: classical music and world mythology. The Stravinsky Intrigue continues those same themes, and his Fugue & Fable series culminates in The Tchaikovsky Finale. His The Pawn Stratagem contemporary fantasy series, Pawn’s Gambit, Queen’s Peril, and King’s Crisis combines contemporary fantasy, superheroics, and the ancient game of chess. His YA novel is Carol, a modern-day retelling of A Christmas Carol billed as Scrooge meets Mean Girls. His short stories can be found in numerous anthologies and magazines, and the best, particularly those about a certain Necromancer for Hire, are collected under Darin’s imprint, 64Square Publishing.

Doctor-by-day and novelist-by-night, he writes and practices medicine in Charlotte, NC. When not engaged in either of the above activities, he has been known to strum the guitar, enjoy a bite of sushi, and rumor has it he even sleeps on occasion. Find him online at

Dr. Kennedy’s Prescription for Success:

Number 1: Don’t figure out what you want to be, figure out what you are.

Number 2: Don’t be afraid your creative side. Don’t be afraid to explore new things.

Number 3: Don’t be afraid to ask for what it is you need to be the best person you can be.

Number 4: Don’t let anyone ever tell you that it’s too late to do something.

Connect with Dr. Kennedy

Facebook: Darin Kennedy
Instagram: @Darinkennedyauthor

Notable quotes from Dr. Kennedy’s interview:

You never know who was going to walk in the door, so you were ready at all times.

Everything has its ups and everything has its downs and everything has its challenges.

Figure out what you are – and be that.

Don’t be afraid to explore your creative side.

Note: Links on this page may be linked to affiliate programs. These links help to ensure we can continue to deliver this content to you. If you are interested in purchasing any products listed on this page, your support helps us out greatly. Thank you.

Access the Show Transcript Here


[0:00] When your children what do you want to be when you grow up and then later on we asked people what specialty do you want where do you want to go and.
One of the pieces of advice I always give to my students is don’t figure out what you want to be but figure out what you are.

[0:24] Paging dr. cook paging dr. cook dr. cook you’re wanted in the o.r. dr. Koh you’re wanted in the.

[0:32] Music.

[0:52] Everyone and welcome to prescriptions for Success I’m dr. Randy cook your host for the podcast.
Which is a production of the empty coaches providing leadership and Executive coaching for Physicians by physicians.
To overcome burnout transition your career develop as a leader or whatever your goal might be visit MD coaches on the web,
at my MD because you’re not in this alone don’t forget that CME credit is available when you listen with us just look for cmf I in the show notes to learn how.
My guest today describes himself as physician by day and novelist by night.
He pursues both of these interests and a few others as a family practitioner in Charlotte North Carolina so,
let’s hear dr. Darren Kennedy tell his story.

[1:48] I’m really excited about our guest today on prescription for success.

[1:54] We speak to a lot of Physicians that have side gigs inside occupations but I believe that this is our first novelist.
And I’m really looking forward to the conversation with dr. Darren Kennedy Darin thank you so much for being with us today it’s an honor to have you,
thank you for having me is very exciting well Darrin as we always do we want to get a look at the your entire career.
Trajectory and we like to literally begin at the beginning and I see that you are a North Carolina native and did
pretty much all of your growing up and getting educated in the Winston-Salem area is that right yes so I grew up in Boy Scouts I was an eagle scout and when we were.
When I was 11 12 13 the way that we would raise funds for the troop where we would go sell drinks and peanuts and everything at the Wake Forest football games and so I had it in my,
head from a very early age that when it was time to go off to college that I wanted to go to wait because I’d always been around that.

[3:01] Fast forward to the end of high school I simultaneously to said I was going to go to wait but then because that is not an inexpensive place to go also.
Decided to take an army ROTC scholarship and that’s going to become important when we get to a later part of the interview but.

[3:24] That is how I was able to afford to go to wake and that made it to where we know not,
crippling student debt going forward I ended up I grew up just south of Winston-Salem in Davidson County and then I went to wake for undergrad not knowing at the time that I was going to go to medical school,
and then when I when I ended up applying to medical school I
got in at Wake Forest which at that time was still Bowman Gray school of medicine that was the last of our class the class of 97 was the last year to actually be called Bowman Gray and
I always remember one of the funniest things is there were six freshmen in my freshman sweet and three of us were in that class and so with it we had a fifty percent.
Rate of getting into that class at Wake Forest are know what it was about our sweet but we were about three percent of the class.

[4:19] Yeah Bowman Gray was actually one of the schools that I was accepted to when I was making my applications wound up going to Medical College of Georgia but enjoyed being around Winston-Salem and you mentioned.
That when you started undergraduate school that you didn’t necessarily know at that point that medicine was going to be a career when did that decision come about so.
It’s funny I think everybody gets to the decision that they want to go to medical school and pursue a career in medicine from a different way and if I look back at the earliest seed of an idea I think that in my.

[4:57] Applications to college there was probably some references to I’m going to be a history major and I’m going to go to law school.
And I think that’s the truth but.

[5:08] Going to wake I was not a history major I was a biology major and I absolutely found out that I did not wish to pursue a career in law the the first thing was.
You get about halfway through undergrad and you’re like well I need to figure out what I’m doing the rest of my life but then you also realize I have taken a,
four year scholarship from the United States Army and whenever all is said and done they are going to ask me to do something I should probably find,
a career that I can do in the military that also is going to transfer whenever I’m done and also one that is something that I actually wish to do.
And as somebody that was always interested in biology and you know Plants and Things growing up and.
Doing a lot of Forestry stuff when I was in Scouts I had already sort of like leaned into.
A biology major and that sort of aligns with a lot of the pre-med courses.
And so I think pretty much by halfway through sophomore year I have sort of solidified around I think I want.
To pursue medicine and I and I’ve already kind of on that trajectory and to see what happens and.

[6:28] One some of the faculty were telling me I think if I recall this is this is now seems like ancient history but at the time they were saying you’re getting started too late everybody else is ahead of you you might want to find something else.
To look into but I’ve always sort of been one of those people that once I said no that’s what I’m doing that I just.
I just do it and so that was sort of how I started my trajectory toward medicine I’m a little surprised that you’re you’re.

[6:59] Advisors thought that you were too late to the process unless things changed because I.
I probably applied to medical school back about the time they the discovered fire and the people at the medical school.
Said to me look we don’t want to see you until you’ve got a Bachelor’s degree and then we can determine if you’re qualified enough but.
But it sounds like the.

[7:30] The culture at Wake Forest was is that you really need to get in the pipeline early is that what you’re telling me that seemed to be what I was hearing,
and I recall that I was very I was very happy to prove them wrong whenever I got my acceptance letter over that summer.

[7:49] And have you ever regretted that choice I don’t think.
I think everybody has a day now and then where you ask yourself what have I done of course I think I think that’s everybody but I don’t think I’ve ever once thought that I don’t belong in medicine,
that’s going to come up at the end where we’re talking about prescriptions for Success so you’re still enjoy going to work.
I still enjoy going to work a few years ago doing Family Medicine five days a week and then trying to
go home and make books started to burn the candle at both ends a little bit and so.
I’ve dropped down in the last few years to doing a point 8 ft e which I’m at work four days a week.
And that seems to be a good work-life balance for me what you got into your family practice residency did you feel like a good fit at that point I sort of have an algorithm for.
I teach it to my students and we do a lot of medical student education a lot of this will be at what we at the prescriptions at the end but.

[9:04] My algorithm is to sort of decide early.

[9:12] Early in the algorithm do you wish to see patients or not see patients then it’s do you wish to be a surgeon or
not a surgeon and then do you wish to deal more with physical or mental health and then lastly,
do you like Pediatric Care Elderly Care OBGYN care or all of the above and you can probably guess how I came down that algorithm but that is sort of how I sort of see it in my head
and there’s a hundred different ways that you can skin that cat but that’s sort of how I’ve always seen it,
that is a very thoughtful way to go about it and your students are lucky to.
Get that kind of advice from you but I want to move your story along a little bit as you say you got yourself fully trained and capable of providing a highly valuable service.

[10:05] But now you’re going to be involved with military service.
So tell us what that translates what that transition was like so I finished up my eight years at Wake Forest and then I did,
my three years up at carillion health system in Roanoke Virginia and that’s a that’s a thirty-six resident that’s a.
And almost unopposed is that fully unopposed but it’s a somewhat unopposed residency we got to do a lot of things and I felt like that allowed me to.
Get really good at deliveries and doing procedures as well as,
um getting it just a good General Family Medicine education with a lot of evidence based education with dr. we had dr. Mark Greene a while to make Jeremiah where two of our big evidence base gurus there,

[11:04] So I came out of residency a lot of with a lot of with a lot of good skills then I found out that my first job.
In the Army was going to be flight surgeon and what that is is a doctor who cares for pilots and so.
Before I even got to my first job which is at Fort Hood Texas they had me go to Fort Rucker Alabama.
For six weeks so I literally watched all my household goods get packed into a large semi truck then got in my car and drove from Virginia to Alabama.

[11:42] Got out of my car and then spent six weeks learning how to be a flight surgeon then got back in my car and drove,
Due West to Fort Hood Texas and got out of my car and started being a flight surgeon for two years and it’s an interesting thing to work in a clinic where you have a Blackhawk
parking lot in your backyard and,
try to listen to hearts and lungs whenever Black Hawk helicopters are taking off that was kind of interesting well that whole story is interesting so I gather,
when you join the Army and you come in as a board certified family practitioner.

[12:22] They just they don’t ask any questions they just assign you to what your duty is going to be and that’s that or was there any discussion with you at all,
I think your first Duty station is very much a based on the needs of the army sort of thing and they said we need flight surgeons at Fort Hood I guess that was because some of their doctors were moving onto there
second or third or whatever Duty station but I,
I literally drove onto Fort Hood found the place where my boss was going to be or one of my bosses the division surgeon,
went and found his office in this sort of Labyrinth een building,
and walked in and he literally just kind of ran his finger down a paper and said I think you will be the new flight surgeon for 110 Cavalry I said.
Yes sir and I said where is that and he showed me where to go so I got in my car and drove over there and met my boss when you’re a flight surgeon for a unit.

[13:19] Your your boss is not a doctor your boss is a a lieutenant colonel who.
Is in charge of armor and helicopters and personnel and you become one of his personnel and you.
And you make sure that the medical mission of the unit gets done but then you’re just part of the machine you’re making all the soldiers stay well.

[13:47] While simultaneously reporting back to the hospital to make sure that you’re doing things right way see you end up sort of having two or three bosses is sort of like the hospital has a piece of you the division surgeon of the military
unit has a piece of you and then your actual boss of your unit is the May is your main boss who sort of,
decides where you go and while I was at Fort Hood.
I would get up really early and go to my units sit call and take care of my soldiers and then I would drive over to the treat Medical Clinic 12T MC12
and then I would do sit call for pilots and everybody else had gotten there early but I had to take care of my unit first,
get there do sit call for the pilots and all the crew chiefs then do flight physicals all morning until lunch.
And then in the afternoon that’s where I got a lot of my procedure experience because in the afternoons we’ve been doing either flight physicals or procedure have days for
and I learned to do so many things post residency there because
I’m I’m I’m the tip of the spear I’m the first person to see a lot of these people.

[15:01] That’s a pretty busy schedule and in one other thing that I would like to get into before we move on to other things I’d like you to tell our audience just exactly.

[15:11] What a flight surgeon does what their responsibilities are people might think that it’s somebody that goes up in an airplane and performs operation obviously it’s not that at all but tell us a little bit about,
what your duties are as a pleasure and and 26 weeks,
that I was at Fort Rucker you get sort of a crash course where you take everything you just learned in medical school and then you sort of put it through a filter for Pilots because,
you have to imagine that they have invested the Army has invested a significant amount of money in not only these Pilots but in these like multi-million dollar aircraft that they’re in so they need.
Physicians who are experts in can they see well enough to fly can they take,
the right medicines and be able to fly if they have this medical condition are they cleared to fly or not and so every year whenever you’re coming in one of your main things is do their flight physical,
review all their meds their problem list and everything and make sure that they are long-term acceptable to be up in the air.

[16:18] And then,
if they get sick or need a change in medicine then you need to determine short-term are they safe to be up in the air and you do up slips and down slips and all this stuff but you are monitoring and making sure
that they are okay and then if the pilots get sick of course you are taking care of them to get them well as quickly as possible so they can get back to work
along with all your other soldiers.
So now you’re not only a board certified family practitioner Euro fully qualified flight surgeon and.
You get offered an all-expense-paid trip to Iraq to be in a war zone yes sir what was that like so I had finished up at Fort Hood and I had PCS,
to this a permanent change of station to Fort Benning Georgia and my job there was
to go take care make basically the basic trainees of the army at Fort Benning and then their Cadre who was doing their training and.
But before I left Fort Hood that was when 9/11 happened and I was actually at work at TMCC 12 whenever.

[17:29] That happened and so we all knew the minute that that happened that probably a lot of us were going to get to go do something.
But it was not until after I had moved to Fort Benning I got there in the summer of 2002 and.
About six months in that was when everything was starting to ramp up and so they sort of said don’t be surprised if early in 2003,
you deploy to Iraq and sure enough in March I left Fort Benning,
went up to Fort Campbell in Kentucky and got put into a slot as a battalion surgeon with the 101st Airborne.
And then we deployed to Iraq for oif 1 and.

[18:17] We were we were all of the big events that happened in the first year of the Iraq War I was,
relatively close to a lot of that because it was the hundred first we were pretty near the front lines for a lot of that don’t tell us about,
some of the things that you saw I can assume that there were some significant injuries that that got to.
Your base of operations it had to be triaged elsewhere or.
What would you tell us for the first two or three months whenever the it was interesting the first three three to four months is where we had.
The significant amount of fighting of the initial you know combat and then there I was there for about ten and a half months the remaining you know six six to seven months we’re still very very busy.
But that was for there seemed to be a little bit of a lull in the combat and they were actually sending a lot of.
The doctors home and we were thinking that things were going to wrap up relatively quickly and then they ended up of course not wrapping up relatively quickly but for the first three months.
We spent the first few weeks over there still on the Kuwait side of the border and that was where we were prepping and getting everything ready to you know have.

[19:41] Not just me but all of my Medics and all of our equipment ready to take care of people as close to the front,
as possible then there was the night that we actually crossed the berm and went into Iraq.

[19:56] And then we spent the first month in southern Iraq and then the second month.
Not to Baghdad but to another place and then and then after the starting the third month we went all the way up into the northern part of Iraq not quite into Kurdistan and we were staying believe it or not in a,
abandoned Iraqi Air Force,
bass and my home was a hanger for Anna Mig aircraft but
all of the Mig aircraft got destroyed back in the 1990s with Desert Storm.
And so it’s just this big Hangar and so we set up all of our stuff inside there and that was where we took care of our soldiers for the rest of the time but.
Going back to the first three months it was a very interesting time because we.
We were a medical unit at that time it was me an emergency room PA believe it or not a pediatric allergist.
We didn’t have our Internal Medicine we later on got an internal medicine major but it was it was it was it was it was me a pediatric allergist a PA and RN and then we had a bunch of enlisted medics.
Who are all excellent and did a great job and.

[21:18] The medical people we spend a lot of time getting our Medics a little bit more medically trained because they don’t get a chance to practice a lot of that stuff.

[21:27] On on people that are it when they’re when they’re Stateside they may get to exercise their healing skills on.
Humvees more than they get to practice on people but when they got over there so we were making sure that they were good.
With blood pressures and dressings and all all this thing’s we did a whole lot of training and by the end they were all sort of like,
approaching PA status like they would take care of a lot of a lot of stuff without even needed me that they would just sort of sign off on what they did because they kind of knew what to do.
But in addition to us our particular unit 4.
The first I think it was about the first two to three months we had a forward surgical team that got sort of attached to us and this was,
an orthopedic surgeon to general surgeons and then
just a just enough staff of nursing to take care of things and they would have 3/10,
and they could have that whole thing set up and just a few hours and the first tent would be pre-op the second tent would be the or and the third tip would be post-op and
when we had the forward surgical team with us we were kind of like a micro hospital and a lot of the people that were injured would come to us.

[22:51] And we the family medicine doctor pediatric allergist and emergency room PA we would care for everybody and triage them and then the forward surgical team would come and take them
in order of injury and get them taken care of during some of the heavy fighting got through that first two or three months and everything sort of
had a little bit of a lull they re they reattach the forward surgical team to a different unit and at that point on we became a little bit more of just what we would call a battalion aid station
which is sort of like a mobile clinic that we could take care of things but we didn’t have the surgical capabilities that we did.

[23:32] At that time and so at that point everybody started over flying us and going straight to the combat support Hospital.
Rather than rather than coming to us but we would still take care of an awful lot of people because we were,
especially once we moved up to the Iraqi Air Force Base up in the northern part of Iraq we had multiple multiple units in there and they would all come to us for their medical care and we would,
take care of them is as best we could we had sick call every morning and some days where more busy than others.
We would have we would have
is interesting we have all these other non-military people like the people that ran the laundry were all the people that ran the laundry were all Turkish and the people who were working on Switching the money over we’re all
from Samoa so we would have all these people from all over the world staying there on the base with us and we would take care of them too.

[24:34] It was it was an interesting time it was sort of all comers you never need you literally never knew what was going to walk in the door so you just you just were ready at all times.
We’ll get back to her interview in just a moment but right now I want to tell you about a new sponsor for us.
Growing Innovation Health Solutions is a comprehensive medical billing service,
that allows you to shift the burden of collections off your shoulders so you can focus on patient care.
G.i. Health Solutions has the experience and the expertise to help you manage all your building related chores efficiently and professionally.
Their expert team will handle all your coding claim follow-up and building issues to be certain you receive your payments on time.

[25:21] They can streamline your billing process and increase your Revenue by up to 30%.

[25:27] With GI Health Solutions you’ll get more time with patients less busy work better cash flow.
Fewer errors and improved patient satisfaction.

[25:38] So reach out to Growing Innovation Health Solutions today and let them help your medical group improve profitability and eliminate administrative burdens.
Visit their website at Health Solutions dotnet for a free consultation.
Hi I’m Rhonda Crow founder and CEO for empty coaches here on RX for Success we interview a lot of great medical professionals on how they grew their careers how they overcame challenges.
And how they handle day-to-day work I really hope you’re getting a lot of great information.
But if you’re looking for an answer to a specific problem management or Administration challenge,
or if you’re feeling just a bit burnt out like maybe you chose the wrong career well then there’s a faster way to get the help you need now it’s not counseling it’s coaching,
RX for success is produced by MD coaches a team of Physicians who have been where you are I know you’re used to going it alone but you don’t have to,
get the support you need today visit us at my MD to schedule your complimentary consultation.
Again that’s my MD because you’re not in this alone.

[26:58] We’ll get back to our interview in just a moment but right now I want to tell you a little bit about physician Outlook.
If you haven’t discovered this remarkable magazine please do so very soon it was created by physicians for Physicians
to showcase the intersection between clinical and non-clinical interest whether it’s writing,
painting cooking politics and dozens of other topics physician Outlook gives a physician perspective
it’s available online and in print it’s really unique among physician lifestyle magazines and like the prescription for Success podcast
physician Outlook amplifies the voice of any physician who has something to say it also engages patients who still believe in physician-led
team-based care and prescription for Success listeners can get 3 months free when you enter our promo code
RX for success and select the monthly option and check out that’s a really great deal on this stunning publication,
and now let’s get back to today’s interview.

[28:08] After I after I got back from Iraq in 2004 I still owed.
Through 2008 and so I was still at Fort Benning and there is a Family Medicine Residency there so when I got back,
I suddenly have a year of combat experience and you know,
two plus years of overall three plus years of overall experience so I got asked to move from taking care of basic trainees,
and come over to Martin Army Community Hospital and I was there just a short amount of time before they asked me to join the faculty,
as a family member under for the Army Family Medicine Residency program there and so for the last.
For years that I was there first I was the clinic scheduler then I was I’m going to have to think let’s see,
first I was the clinic scheduler and I was responsible every four weeks for producing a schedule for about 45 providers,
for weeks at a time and then when I was done with that I became the team leader it was a 36 residency I mean a 36 resident residency and so.
18 of us were a team and 18 were B team so I was the B team leader so I had to do all the evaluations for 18 residents every year.

[29:33] For their officer evaluation reports and report on up,
so I was the scheduler then I was the B team leader and then very briefly right before I got out,
I was the clinic the clinic Chief but that was just the last few months and then I ETS out of the military in October 1st of 2008
but as I was looking around I had really enjoyed the education aspect of my job.
In the Army so when I started looking around I wanted to move back to North Carolina I wasn’t sure exactly where in North Carolina
but I wanted to kind of get back home so I like I like to see the family and every time I had driven home for holidays it had been a six to eight hour drive for several years I was ready to not
have a six to eight hour drive be a part of my several time of year regimen so.

[30:27] I said well I wonder if there are any residency opportunities North Carolina and and so I just did a Google Search and.
It’s funny I think that by not knowing how to look for a job I was very effective at looking for a job I.
Found that Charlotte largest city in North Carolina had a.
Family Medicine Residency program I was like oh yeah I applied to that way back in the day I just said who is who is the Family Medicine.
Department chief got their phone number called spoke to their Administrative Assistant told them who I was and what I was looking for and.
I ended up with a telephone interview then an in-person interview and then a job offer and I.
So I am now on the Family Medicine Residency faculty here in Charlotte with Atrium health.
And have been since 2009 I bet they’re glad to have you were there any challenges in adjusting to.

[31:28] Health Care delivery in the civilian World versus what you had been experiencing in the army.

[31:34] There there are differences most most of the most of the care that I did.
In the Army was all under Tricare and so not only were a lot of.
I mean I still had to do the billing but that was more to make sure that the clinic was getting
the correct amount of RV use to justify its existence but as far as
that influencing my pay or anything not so much but I still I still did it right because we were they taught us how to do it correctly you just do things right because that’s how you’re supposed to do it.

[32:09] But it also on the patient side if you’re with Tricare if definitely allowed them to.
If I order something I just kind of knew it was going to be taken care of because they’re covered and then,
it wasn’t like I’m sending things out to all these different pharmacies we had a farm like when you walked out of our Clinic the pharmacy was right there and everybody just stopped and got their meds,
on the way out see you had much more of a finger on the pulse that people were actually getting their meds or not because you didn’t send it to an outside of Pharmacy,
and then we were cold we were located at Martin Army Community Hospital which had all of the different specialties,
ORS everything say when your people were getting,
their colonoscopy done or their eye surgery or whatever it’s getting done in the hospital where you show up at work every day so you can actually go and interface.
With the Specialists and sit down and have lunch with them and ask them you know what’s going on and so that.
I was I don’t want to say there’s not collegiality out in the civilian world but there’s definitely a lot of collegiality at a big army hospital because everybody’s right there.

[33:20] And that leads that helps a whenever I got here it’s a lot more of you know.
I feel like now I say someone needs to see a gastroenterologist but I don’t often know who that gastroenterologist is going to be or who that off the mop
ophthalmologist is going to be I just put in a referral and it’s going to go out into the community somewhere so definitely referrals is different and then.
I had never had to deal with a bazillion different pharmacies before and calling this and that the other challenges challenging it,
everything has its ups and everything has its downs and everything has its challenges and so I would say it was different but the same.
If that makes any sense it makes plenty of sense and clearly you made a success of it in the military and you have continued to make a success of it in the civilian world.
And interestingly there is another whole dimension of you that I want to get into now,
and that is Darren Kennedy the author it’s my understanding from poking around in,
where I can find things on you that you actually put together your first novel.

[34:39] While you were in the war zone and I gathered that one never got published but,
pretty soon you did get published so tell us the story of how that came about actually that novel is published I just Rose it really yes sir I actually.

[34:57] I wrote way back in 2003 I wrote the first half.
Of a fantasy novel and my idea for it was for it to be one book that finished the entire story but,
so 2003 probably the second half a deployment the first half of the deployment was really really busy but the second half I always tell people that.
Going into a war zone is long periods of boredom punctuated by short periods of Terror and so,
you have to find something to do during the long periods of boredom because when you’re I mean you can only work out so many hours a day and then you see yours
patience and you sleep and you eat and then the rest of the time you got to find something to do so I would borrow our dentist had a Panasonic Toughbook.

[35:46] Which was a little laptop and so I went into mosul and bought a thumb drive and so what I would do is when he wasn’t using the computer,
to look at dental X-rays or the Medics weren’t using the computer to send emails home because in the first year the the access to email was not nearly to the degree of later on.
When they when the computer was it being used I would ask if I could borrow it and I would just stick the thumb drive in and I would,
write the next however many pages until somebody to the computer again I wrote the first half of that book they when I got home I didn’t really look at it much for about a year because when you get back your kind of tired
and you have to get reassimilated into life and your job and everything but then probably in.
2005 I said I want to actually finish that thing so I finished it and then I wrote about the first half of a sequel to it.
And then and then right around the time that I was getting into that is whenever I moved.

[36:50] Charlotte and got out of the military,
and when I got up here I was working on that a little bit but then I started writing some short stories because the the wisdom at the time was get a few short stories published and then see if that can help you you know,
get your novel published so I had this one thing that I was sitting on for a long while but then I sort of had a different interest and I wrote a completely different,
book that was supposed to be a standalone it also became a Trilogy yeah the the first book ended up becoming a Trilogy and then the second thing was going to be a standalone it ended up being a trilogy.
But then before I could finish either Trilogy I had an idea for another book that was a standalone I wrote that one so,
it was kind of a big mish-mosh for the years but I stand here right now with both trilogies complete and published and my Standalone novel,
complete and published and now in the last about 17 months I have written two new novels.
That are the beginning of what I think is going to be a much longer series than anything I’ve done before,
and I’m really enjoying this new thing I’m working on but getting everything else kind of done and off my plate really help me free my brain up to actually move forward with something else.

[38:09] Well it sounds like you’re fairly efficient with your time to have been able to accomplish all of that and.
I’d like to talk to you a little bit about the,
the genre a genre that you ride in and if it has changed pardon if it has changed or if it’s going to change or what you expect I was delighted.
I talked to so many physician authors whose books I can’t find but I was delighted to be able to find the the Missouri ski riddle on Audible,
which I downloaded a few days ago and I’ve heard.
State chapters already and it’s a really brilliant piece of work,
and so I’m interested you have a lot of interest in classical music that’s embedded in this you have a lot of interest in
mythology and the Supernatural and it’s all packaged in this incredible story which is,
just really wonderfully written you want to tell us about how that came about and we’re you’re interested in,
these other art forms comes in so the mussorgsky riddle is the book that I was talking about that when I got back before I finish the trilogy that I started.

[39:30] In a rack I see so it actually turned out that ended up being the first book that I had published but it wasn’t the first one that I wrote and so,
um yeah I’m in Charlotte I’ve got my my other series is based on the game of chess.
And so I’ve got one and a half books of the chest series done then I’ve written a few short stories and,
my interest in the classical music I’ve always liked classical music or orchestral type music I was a I was a trumpet player,
in in marching band from like eighth grade through my senior year of college so I have,
played more football games basketball games symphony orchestra band concerts we I’ve never been in an organization that had a string section before so I’ve never been in an orchestra.
But that would that would have been fun back in the day I I don’t think my lips can probably make much of a sound come out of a trumpet anymore but,
so I had always loved that stuff and then growing up in the 70s and 80s every movie you went to was,
was scored by John Williams and so we’ve all heard.

[40:42] The Superman theme or ET or Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars all of that stuff growing up and just seeing how.
That music as you’re watching something on a screen can bring it to life and I mean.
None of those movies would be what they are if it wasn’t for John Williams and the orchestra there it just wouldn’t be the same thing.

[41:06] The Orchestral Version of mussorgsky’s pictures at an exhibition as I well I’ve never actually heard.

[41:13] The classical I’ve always heard the progressive rock and I went and heard it and I’m pretty sure I just fell in love with that piece of music that night
it’s it’s one of it’s absolutely one of my favorites having heard all that so of course I’m going to get the CD and one day I had the CD in my hand and when I flipped it over they have the different movements,
of the piece listed and in my head I go those look like chapter titles and it was all over I was like.

[41:42] I want to write a book based on pictures at an exhibition so I did so when you’re trying to decide how are you going to write a book about,
a piece of music but actually have people not just hear the music but like somehow interact with it I came up with a hundred different ways to do it and 99 of them were bad but
if you want to do that then you’re like well if you’re going to interact with a piece of music all music is is a human beings interpretation of
sonic waves that are hitting their eardrums and going into their brain so if you’re going to be in the piece of music then you’re going to be in somebody’s head,
therefore the setting of the book has to be someone’s mind and if you are someone who is exploring someone’s mind then your other main character has to be a psychic because
that is a person who can enter another person’s mind so that’s where you get Anthony and that’s where you get mirror my my poor.

[42:45] Boy and my psychic and that’s and so once you’ve established that then you have to decide well.
Okay so she can now visit pictures at an exhibition inside of his head.

[42:58] But what the heck is the story so a lot of people when they write a story I talked about it walking in the front door like
token is like I want to write a story about Hobbits that saved the world whereas me,
I didn’t set out to talking story about Mira and Anthony I set out to tell a story about pictures at an exhibition so I say the mirror and Anthony is coming about the story by coming in the back door rather than the front door is sort of my way of thinking about it.

[43:28] That is really a remarkable approach.
And I would never have imagined that in my own head and I suspect no one else what either and that’s what makes it unique and it really is just an incredible.
Piece of work the imagination and the fantasy and all the ideas that you were just mentioning,
really fit particularly now that I’ve heard your explanation of it and I congratulate you on a on a terrific.

[44:04] Piece of work it really is remarkable,
my my first publisher I’m with a second published now the first publisher no longer exists but my second publisher for the mussorgsky riddle and then the other two books that came along afterward
the best thing they ever did for me was they actually got me a deal with audible themselves and Audible
did the entire that audiobook that you’re listening to they lined all that up and they got me Elizabeth Evans who is the audiobook narrator that you’re enjoying and when I first heard her read.
I got very emotional because I,
I didn’t understand how I’m still pretty low on the food chain and I felt like I got you know Top Notch quality,
audio book narration I mean she just she does such an outstanding job with that I just cannot say enough about Elizabeth Evans she’s delightful.

[45:02] I have to agree with you on that and I hardly ever read anything longer than two or three paragraphs nowadays because my eyes are old and weak and so I listen.
To a lot of audible and other audio sources some of.
The performers are really brilliant a great many of them are not and it can ruin the book for you but this woman is just amazing and.
I know you must feel very fortunate to tie feel extremely fortunate.

[45:37] So what’s going to come next what’s what’s what’s the next thing on your.
On your never-ending list of fantasy novels well I’ve got.
The trilogy based on the three different Russian composers I’ve got the trilogy based on the opening middle game and endgame
of a fantasy game of chess to decide the fate of the world I wrote a young adult version of A Christmas Carol where I call it Scrooge meets Mean Girls.
It’s a great instead of a grumpy old man who gets the three spirits come to turn his life around it’s a seventeen-year-old mean girl who is in serious need of an attitude adjustment and I took care of that.
That’s another great and so that’s everything that I have available thus far and I had an idea.

[46:29] And it’s funny I can encapsulate everything I’ve already written very well but every time someone asked me what am I writing now I get a little bit tongue-tied because there’s so many elements to it,
but the best I’ve come up with so far is if you’ve seen.

[46:46] The show Heroes or read any of the X-Men Comics if you’ve ever seen the movie Highlander and if you’ve ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer if you took,
all of the things that you really liked about all of those things and threw it in a blender.
And then served it cold through a filter of 80s music that would be what I’m working on right now.

[47:11] That’s quite a collage that’s his that’s as close as I’ve come to being able to say what I’m writing right now well there and I have.
Really enjoyed what I’ve been able to get to in your first novel right now and I’m really looking forward to finishing that I really enjoyed,
our conversation today and I want to thank you for being with us but we are at the point where it’s time for me to step out of your way for a moment and I’m going to do exactly that and dr. Darren Kennedy is going to share his.
Prescriptions for Success so the first one I have alluded to before and this is something that I teach my.
Medical students we always talked about.

[47:57] When your children what do you want to be when you grow up and then later on we asked people what specialty do you want where do you want to go and.
One of the pieces of advice I always give to my students is don’t figure out what you want to be but figure out what you are and there’s,
probably just a fine line between those two things and I think both of them are a consideration.
But all of us you know meet people who are in medical school who.
Have a proclivity or they have the attributes of someone that you see in a certain role and you don’t have to necessarily follow that but at the same time,
figure it out you know what is it you are and what is it that brings you your passion and then pursue that.
Rather than just what do you wish to be so that would be one prescription I would have.

[48:58] A second one to look more at
the novelist side of me then the physician side is don’t be afraid to explore your creative side or more generally don’t be afraid to explore new things because,
we’re in none of us the end of our story we’re always a we’re always a novel that’s being written every day and so.

[49:24] You know I at the point that I decided to write my first novel it’s not like I set out to be a novelist I.

[49:31] Had finished College med school residency in the Army and
I’m in the desert of Iraq and said you know what this would be something interesting to do and now it’s led to I’ve written nine novels seven of which are published and it doesn’t have to be novels or even an artistic Pursuit but don’t be afraid.

[49:51] To look into something new that you haven’t.
That you haven’t experienced yet or that you haven’t tried yet yet you know it’s never too late to try something new the third would be.

[50:07] Work-life balance and we talk about this all the time don’t be afraid to ask for what it is you need.
Be it at work at home or whatever to be the best person that you can be I remember back in 2015.

[50:26] When I was starting to feel burned out.

[50:30] And I would not say that at a point I was like dreading coming to work but I just.
By the end of each week I was physically exhausted and I didn’t want to be that anymore and fortunately.
I had an understanding.
Boss but also the life situation that allowed me to cut back a little bit and achieve a little better work-life balance and that may not be the solution for everybody.

[51:00] But it’s important to maintain.
Happiness and enjoying what you do because what you bring to the table each day as a physician is,
not just your knowledge but it’s your attitude and how you feel about your patience and if you show up to work exhausted they pick up on that and if you show up at work
ready to ready to go they also pick up on that and so I would say whatever you need to do within what you can do to achieve the best work-life balance you can,
to that you have what it takes not only to give to your patients but when you get home to give to your families your friends and yourself and the last thing I would go with is don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something,
I was told in college that it was too late to apply to medical school.
That was wrong I was told you probably never be able to get a book published that was wrong there are just lots of times where if the.
Common wisdom of what you are being told was true then.

[52:12] I could have just said fine I won’t pursue that so if you’re passionate about something or you want something pursue it.
Not everything is going to happen but not that also not everything you are told is not a possibility is true either and so I would say pursue the things that.
Bring you Joy and
I think that would be my last prescription for Success well dr. Darren Kennedy I want to thank you so much for
sharing your overall story with us today it’s really been quite fascinating and certainly for sharing your prescriptions for Success a lot of wisdom in there and we were very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be with you today
before we go I want to give you an opportunity to tell our audience where they can find you and find your books and anything else that you would like to share before we go.

[53:05] My website now that I have a new home for it is not getting hacked every other week is that,
Darin Kennedy da Rin and that’s where you can learn a little bit more about me and on there are links to all of my books but
if you look on Amazon
or go to your local independent bookstore or a Barnes & Noble or a Books-A-Million or pretty much anywhere if you ask for my books they can order them you probably will never find them
on the shelf and that’s okay but if you if you want to read something of mine,
any any place where you can buy books all you have to do is put my name into the system and they can find my stuff we have.

[53:49] Contemporary fantasy based on the based on the game of chess we have a Trilogy based on every piece of Russian classical music you’ve ever heard of that as we talked about is,
pretty fun we have a young adult version of A Christmas Carol and I hope to have some new stuff out soon.
I’m at all the usual places you can look me up on Facebook and that’s where you hear a lot about what’s coming up for my books if you want to take a look at some of my pictures of pretty flowers and with an occasional reference to my writing you can look me up on Instagram at Darren Kennedy author,
I don’t tweet very much so you can find me there but you’re not going to get anything you don’t get anywhere else and I’ll leave it at that well dr. Darren Kennedy has really been a pleasure speaking with you today and once again thank you for joining us today on prescription for success.

[54:39] Thank you so much for joining us today.
We’d really appreciate a review from you and a five-star rating helps give our podcast much more visibility and that helps us reach more listeners.
We also hope you’ll visit our patreon page for membership only material like personal rapid fire Q & A sessions with our guests.
To be sure you never miss an episode you can subscribe at RX for success and while you’re there.
Learn how to get CME credit from cmf I just by listening.

[55:14] Special thanks to Ryan Jones who created and performs our theme music and also to Craig Clausen of Clausen solutions group who edits and produces the show.
And remember be sure to fill your prescription for success with mine next episode.