Deadline Doctor: Kristine Vissage Scruggs ’03

The year is 2030. The government has seized complete control of the health care system. And treatment has become dehumanized for the sake of efficiency.

Kristi Scruggs

One troubled reporter  uncovers a dangerous conspiracy beneath it all, embarking on a shocking and equally chilling search for the truth.

Welcome to the world of Kristine Scruggs’s What They Don’t Know. Scruggs successfully published the medical thriller (her first book) in June 2017, which she wrote amidst her full-time job as a hospitalist and now outpatient doctor in Raleigh, N.C. — not to mention the births of her two sons, Henry and Jack.

Despite having her hands full with a growing family and demanding career, Scruggs was inspired by her experience in the medical field, and she made writing a book a top priority. She became especially determined after reading the memoir When Breath Becomes Air by neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, an intimate reflection penned in his last years fighting stage IV lung cancer.

“It was the motivation I needed,” Scruggs said. “You know, a lot of people talk about writing a book, but not a lot of people actually write a book and publish it. You’re not promised tomorrow, so I figured I needed to make this happen while I could.”

As a doctor, author, mother and wife, things can seem overwhelming at times for Scruggs. But her understanding of balancing work, family and creativity has a healthy dose of confidence and realistic expectation: “Everywhere I look, someone is doing a better job than me at something. But I try to remind myself that no one’s doing life exactly how I am. No one’s doing ‘me’ better.”

For now, Scruggs is focusing on her outpatient work, often visiting and treating elderly patients in their homes, a far cry from the futuristic and machine-like treatments What They Don’t Know imagines. “We do most of our care in the homes,” she says. “It’s really great because it’s mostly elderly folks who can’t get out — they’re very appreciative, and their families are very appreciative.”

While her personal and professional life is keeping her busy, Scruggs is excited about the future for her writing: “People come to me now asking, ‘Oh, it was such a good book! Do you have a sequel you’re writing?’ So, that’s definitely very validating.”

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