For some people, doing one thing at a time is tough to accomplish.
For others, multi-tasking is the norm – but some items get pushed aside in order to complete different actions.
Then, there is Dr. Melanie Blake – who probably makes juggling look easy.
At one point just a few years ago, Dr. Blake was “only” practicing internal medicine … and pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree from UTC … and raising two young children.
Today, now that she has her MBA, she spends her time filling dual medical roles both clinically and administratively … and serving on the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners after being appointed to that role by Governor Bill Haslam … and serving as a member of the UC Foundation’s Board of Trustees … and giving back to the community … while actively participating in the lives of her young family.
Throw in some hurdles – and by hurdles, the reference is to hurdles of the track-and-field variety – and you have one very busy person always on the go.
“Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally is important,” said Dr. Blake, who practices internal medicine at Chattanooga’s Erlanger Medical Center – where she is the chief medical officer. Erlanger partners with UTC on a number of initiatives. “I do think that making sure that you balance these things in your life provides an enrichment that you can’t really get any other way.
“I have a really great family. We have a lot of activities that we do together. We don’t watch television at home. We eat at the table together every night as possible. We just treasure that family time. We try to coordinate our schedules as much as we can.”
In 2009, Dr. Blake and her young family moved to Chattanooga from Birmingham after her husband – Dr. Rett Blake – completed his fellowship. Melanie and Rett met at the University of Alabama at Birmingham – where they both went to medical school and did their residency.
The Blakes didn’t have ties to Chattanooga when they first relocated to southeast Tennessee, but they immediately fell for the city.
“We really love Chattanooga, and it’s where we want to be,” she said. “It’s been a great place to raise a family.
“This is a great city. It just fosters all of the wonderful activities that people enjoy – like running and biking and hiking and rock climbing and kayaking. There are all sorts of amazing activities for active people. To have all of those in one location is a thrill and a blessing.”
Shortly after moving to town, Dr. Blake began her affiliation with the university – by literally going back to school. Pursuing her MBA allowed her to start making connections within the community.
“She has always had a very business-savvy mind,” said her husband – an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist in Chattanooga. “When we first moved here, she started working at Erlanger – but she recognized that she also wanted to pursue her passion for business. She went and got her MBA at UTC. That experience has allowed her to prosper and be part of the administrative team at Erlanger.
“She is actively involved in a multitude of different projects in the community. She has multiple roles at Erlanger. And she’s a wife and a mother to two kids – so she’s quite busy on many fronts.”
Late last year, Dr. Blake was appointed to the state board of medical examiners – a prestigious position in which she deals with licensure and regulatory issues for all the doctors in the state.
And to keep her really busy on the non-medical front, there are the aforementioned hurdles.
“I ran hurdles in high school and in college at Florida State University. Then I took a long break,” Dr. Blake said. “In 2013, I started to train with the Chattanooga Track Club – and I began to compete in the USA Track Federation’s Masters Division. This is my third year of competing. It’s a great program, and I really enjoy it. Events are broken down by age group, and I compete in the 100-meter hurdles, the 60-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles.”
Dr. Blake’s recent track highlights include winning the 60-meter hurdles in the 2014 Masters Indoor Championships in Boston. She participates in two-to-three events each year, with 2016 trips set for Albuquerque and Grand Rapids.
Because she is so active, it’s easy for Dr. Blake’s patients to seek out advice from her. When she talks to them about nutrition and fitness, she practices what she preaches.
“I get a lot of questions about what types of exercise habits people should follow, and I feel that I am able to give some pretty good advice,” she said. “The nutritional advice I give out … it’s always something I’ve tried. I give my patients true pros and cons. I think it’s important to set an example for patients as much as possible.”
And sitting still is clearly not part of her program.