Interviewer: We’re here today with Dr. Jack Coughlin, an Internist and Endocrinologist who works now as a medical consultant with Unum Dr. Coughlin can you please tell us about your last clinical practice?
Dr. Coughlin: Yes so prior to moving to Maine where I took a position as medical consultant for Unum, I was at Cape Cod for approximately 20 years. Initially I developed and ran diabetes and endocrine centers for health care systems, and then perhaps for the five or six period prior to leaving Cape Cod, I had my own independent medical center where I was largely taking care of patients with various endocrine problems, diabetes, thyroid, osteoporosis et cetera.
Interviewer: And what did you, why did you leave clinical practice?
Dr. Coughlin: I was in clinical practice for 20 years, it was my second career, and although I was somewhat older, my children were somewhat younger, and basically I wanted more time with my family. It got to the point where I was working sometimes or most times seven days a week, and again although I enjoyed clinical practice I also enjoyed my family, and I had responsibilities to them and myself. And that was the major reason was that I left the practice of clinical medicine was to get more control of my life especially with time commitments.
Interviewer: Now, you mentioned you liked clinical practice. What did you like about clinical practice?
Dr. Coughlin: Oh clinical practice is wonderful in the sense that you interacted with the patients. So what you have in clinical practice is you have the theory and the science of medicine, and that’s married with the very close, personal relationship that you have with patients, and hopefully improving their life.
Interviewer: So ultimately to get more time with your family, and have a better lifestyle you decided to take a position as a medical consultant with Unum. So what do you do at Unum?
Dr. Coughlin: At Unum my responsibilities are twofold. One responsibility is to act as a medical resource to the business folks at Unum, and the nurses that work at Unum. If they have a particular medical question on a disease state, or how that disease state may impact functional capacity, I’m there as a resource, and also what I do is I do file reviews. The way it was explained to me is that for every 1,000 disability claims that come through, and that’s my main section at Unum is in disability management, the business or nurses can make a decision at all but about five or seven out of 1,000 claims. Those five to seven claims that they can’t make a decision come to me, and what I do is I do an in-depth file review. I look at all of the information that Unum was able to obtain, and quite often this is more than the primary care doctor has. I have all of the medical records, the records from psychiatry, et cetera, and what my job is, is to take that large medical record and to distill it down into a report perhaps five or seven double spaced typed pages, and in which the situation is explained so that a non-medical person can understand what’s going on. So that’s one part of it that is taking the available information, distilling it down into a readable report. And then I’m asked to provide an opinion on whether the information that is available in the record supports the opinion that the person, we’ll call them the claimant lacks capacity to do certain occupational demands. I can’t say that they can do something, what I’m looking at the available medical record to determine if the available medical record supports inability to do a certain occupational demand or demands. And it’s very important that, that is done in a timely and unbiased fashion.
Interviewer: So doctor, now that you switched over to being a medical consultant with Unum, how do you like that, and how has your lifestyle changed at all?
Dr. Coughlin: How do I like it? On a day to day basis it’s the most fascinating job I’ve ever had. My first career was teaching in a University, my second career was the clinical career that I previously described, and now I have this third career. What I see are interesting cases on a daily basis. I have come across medical conditions that I never came across at my training at Mass. General, or in my 20 years on Cape Cod, so intellectually it’s fascinating. The other large factor is that now I have freedom, enhanced freedom to interact with my family. My daughter who is a junior in high school plays ice hockey, and field hockey, if she has a game at 3:30, I can leave, and I can go see it. So there’s a tremendous amount of personal and family freedom that I’ve achieved. Also I’m blessed to work with a group of people who are highly intelligent, and just plain nice.
Interviewer: Thank you very much doctor.
Dr. Coughlin: Thank you.