Hitting the ground running

OUWB Alum James Blumline, M.D., ’22, gets to work making his mark on medicine

An image of Blumline at commencement

James Blumline, M.D., '22, OUWB, during the school's 2022 commencement. (Photo by Rob Hall)


icon of a calendarDec. 21, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Andrew Dietderich

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James Blumline, M.D., crossed the stage at OUWB’s commencement seven months ago, but it didn’t take long for him to figure out the most rewarding aspect of being a doctor.

The family medicine resident at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Blumline, ’22, says it’s when patients make a particular comment — one that he holds near and dear to his heart, and reminds him of why he worked.

“It’s seeing patients at the family medicine clinic and at the end of the encounter, the patient says, ‘Can I see you from now on? Can you be my primary care doctor?’” says Blumline.

“Knowing that in a shortish amount of time I’ve built that amount of trust and that sort of relationship means a lot to me, because I know it means a lot to them.”

Blumline credits his education at OUWB for preparing him to hit the ground as a resident.

That includes recently being named to Henry Ford Health System’s Ethics Committee, which according to its webpage, “is designed to promote the highest quality ethical standards in health care delivery by providing ethical guidance…through case consultation, policy formation, and ethics education, and to have these services readily available to all staff, patients and families, and the community at large.”

“OUWB did a really good job of making (ethics) a fundamental part of how we engage in patient care,” he said.

A coin flips

Blumline grew up in Warren, Michigan, and attended Oakland University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering.

While working toward his undergraduate degree, Blumline also spent some time as a systems engineer at Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Michigan.

“I didn’t really love it…I felt like I wasn’t feeling fulfilled,” he says.

He took a step back to decide what he really cared about, and made a list of pros and cons. It came down to becoming a doctor or a veterinarian. 

“I flipped a coin between med school and vet school and med school won out,” he says.

Blumline applied to several medical schools, but it was OUWB that won him over.

“On interview day, I felt like it was one of the best interview days I went to,” he says. “I felt like they had prepared and knew a lot about me, and were ready to give me a lot of information about the program as well.”

“I also felt like the community aspect was something that I really was looking forward to,” adds Blumline.

An image of James Blumline and his girlfriend

Blumline with his girlfriend, Baylee Galdys, hanging out near the Downtown Detroit Markets and Cadillac Lounge. (Submitted photo)

A patient-centered approach

While at OUWB, Blumline took a self-directed approach to volunteering and community service, working with organizations such as Michigan Humane, Detroit Zoo, Friends of the Rouge, and Apex Academy.

The medical education Blumline says he received at OUWB was “pretty good, especially once we got to our clinical years.”

OUWB medical students train at three hospitals that are now part of Corewell Health: Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital in Royal Oak; Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital; and Corewell Health Beaumont Grosse Pointe Hospital.

“The clinical faculty were generally pretty excited to teach med students,” says Blumline. “And the residents we worked with generally were eager to get us involved.”

In fact, it was his family medicine rotation at Corewell Health Beaumont Troy Hospital that tipped the scales for Blumline to specialize in the field.

“It was easily my favorite rotation,” he says.

Among other things, it helped him realize that family medicine practitioners have the unique position of “really making sure that people get excellent health care all around…and you’re also helping people who live in the area around you.”

With regard to OUWB’s pre-clinical education, Blumline says the highlight for him was the school’s emphasis on ethics and humanities.

“Nationwide, I think everyone is going to have a pretty similar pre-clinical education,” he says. “But ethics is where OUWB really stood out.”

Blumline says OUWB goes well beyond simply giving its medical students a class and advising them to try and meet patients where they’re at.

“At OUWB, it was really integrated into the entirety of the education and not just within the ethics curriculum,” he says. “OUWB did a really good job of keeping us patient-centered and making sure they we’re continuing to give patients the patience and grace they deserve.”

‘Excited to keep learning’

Blumline says his ultimate goal is to go into practice in an underserved community.

It’s the primary reason, he says, that he wanted to work for Henry Ford Hospital in downtown Detroit.

As a new resident, Blumline admits there’s been an adjustment period, and that there have been a mix of easy and hard days.

Specializing in family medicine means that “every month is totally different.” He’s currently working in labor and delivery, and already has spent time in radiology, prenatal, and inpatient medicine. In January, he’ll be in surgery.

He’s already applied much of what he learned throughout his time at OUWB to real-world situations, particularly when it comes to treating patients in ways that they’re most comfortable.

“I feel comfortable and confident of different methods of meeting patients where they’re at, whether it’s adjusting medical regimes to be something that they’re acceptable with even though it might not be optimal, or goal-setting in ways that will help patients reach their own goals,” says Blumline.

That level of comfort also made it easy for him to apply to the Henry Ford Health System Ethics Committee. He was selected to be part of the consult service offered by the committee, which means he will primarily be having end-of-life discussions with patients and their loved ones.

“It’s important that patients get the care they deserve, and that they desire,” he says. “Also, end-of-life discussions is something I’ve always cared a lot about.”

It’s the kind of thing Blumline says he plans to continue refining and learning about while at Henry Ford, where his overall goals are to build up experience, improve efficiencies, and take on research projects.

“I’m excited to keep learning more and get to a point where I feel comfortable doing all of this on my own in a couple of years,” he says.

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