| Pundit Profile
A Q&A with Jennifer Bolen, JD
What inspired you to become a healthcare provider?
Haha! I’m not. I am a lawyer; a former federal prosecutor.
Why did you focus on pain management?
One afternoon, while I was still working as a federal prosecutor, I was standing behind bulletproof glass and looking out on several patients who asked to see me. I was picking up copies of their medical records that were seized pursuant to a federal search warrant, executed at the office of a local family physician. I remember seeing some of the patients crying and others scratching and shivering. I thought to myself, “There has to be a better way.” I tried to get the board and DEA to suspend the provider’s license and registration, but they wouldn’t. This guy was a danger to himself, his son, and his patients, so we went full on federal prosecution, with search warrants and an indictment to shut him down. He had his own drug problem, and we had to get him to stop prescribing controlled substances. He was in no position to care for people, as he could barely care for himself at the time. People were dying, and the licensing boards and DEA were not ready to take action. I thought education would be better than enforcement. I knew a real storm was on the horizon, so I left the government shortly thereafter and set up my own consulting and education company. That was over 15 years ago. We’ve made a difference, but there are many miles to go for all of us in pain management.
Who were your mentors?
Michael Clark, MD; Doug Gourlay, MD; Howard Heit, MD; Andrew Hertzmark; Ted Jones, PhD; ;Darren McCoy, FNP-BC; Bill McCarberg, MD; Joyce Meyer; and Steve Passik, PhD.
If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?
If I weren’t a lawyer, I would be a physician. I’d go back to school, but sadly I am a little long in the tooth.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I’ve been told that it’s the way I take command of a room when I speak, but I think it’s my ability to translate between doctors and lawyers in the courtroom or lecture hall.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Standing up in front of a group of clinicians and telling them about the deaths of my father and my son and finding a way to tell audience members that they must never forget there is a human being in front of them when they prescribe opioids.
What is your favorite language?
If you had to choose one book, one film, and one piece of music or art to take into space for an undetermined amount of time, what would they be?
Book: Conversations with the Enemy, because PFC Garwood’s experience in the enemy’s camp taught me to look at both sides of any story.
Film: My Cousin Vinny: It always makes me laugh. I know the lines, and I love the characters.
Music: Home We’ll Go by Walk Off the Earth: “Don’t let your head hang low/You’ve seen the darkest skies I know. Let your heart run child, like horses in the wild. So take my hand and home we’ll go… Let your soul shine bright, like diamonds in the sky… It’s a long road, but we’re not alone. Together we stand, and we’re going home.” This music allows me to hope to make it through life’s challenges and ups and downs, and to realize the value of family and friendship to the ultimate end: to accomplish what we were put on this Earth to do—to love.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I helped people find their way through the crap.
What is your motto?
Not by sight, but by faith.