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Singer with the band

March 2011

Published in the March 2011 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

RACHEL LOVINS, MD, HAS AN ECLECTIC RESUME: hospitalist, program director, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine, front woman for the band. That’s because Dr. Lovins is lead vocalist (and occasional guitarist) for The Inflatables, a rock/blues band that performs around New Haven several times a year. She is one of four “out of a total of six “band members who are doctors.

"It’s definitely a relief valve, and it feeds my soul, just like the patient interaction part of medicine," says Dr. Lovins, who directs the hospitalist program at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, Conn., and practices with the band every few weeks. She also contributes to SHM’s The Hospitalist Leader.

Dr. Lovins comes from a family where science and music were always intertwined; her mother plays eight instruments, and her father was a psychologist and a singer. She found her way to medicine when she worked in an AIDS crisis center to pay her way through a master’s in art therapy program at NYU.

Once she saw the relationship that AIDS patients had with their physicians, she switched to pre-med, got into Yale Medical School and met her fellow band members there. They’ve played together ever since.

She started singing as a cantor when she was 18 and used to play folk clubs in college. But her bandmates have steered the group toward rock and blues, and she definitely appreciates how playing Hendrix gets an audience on its feet more than folk. The group performs a mix of covers “"Gimme Shelter" and "The Thrill is Gone" are two favorites “and original songs.

"We’re too old to tour or try to become famous," says Dr. Lovins, although the group is recording a CD. It helps that her husband, an artist and photographer, loves hanging around with the band, and that two of their three children play guitar.

She also sees no dichotomy between artistic expression and medicine. "You have to be open to experiencing your patients," Dr. Lovins says, "just like you have to be open to art and music. Listening, looking and seeing are very important in both art and medicine, and they aren’t unrelated."

Is there a relationship between medicine and performing onstage, like when she belts out her rendition of "Love Me Like a Man"? Dr. Lovins doesn’t see a link between performing and clinical practice, but "being on stage is certainly like giving grand rounds."