What is the role of the associate medical director? We asked physicians who work with us to explain what the role entails, and why they recommend the experience to other physicians.
|Dr. Susan Wilcox|
Associate medical directors can be called upon at any time to provide guidance to our crews on complex cases as they're happening. They also attend monthly case review meetings, provide education on various patient illnesses and injuries, and help with skills verification and rounding at Boston-area hospitals. In short, their work is instrumental in helping us continually improve the care we provide.
We asked Dr. Michael Cocchi and Dr. Susan Wilcox to talk a bit about their work with Boston MedFlight, and to put into words how it has benefited their practice.
Both emphasized that working with Boston MedFlight has deepened and broadened their experiences as physicians, both because of the varied nature of the patient population we care for, and because of the demands of critical care transport.
"Many of our patients could not survive without the tertiary care they are being transferred to receive, and Boston MedFlight actually starts that tertiary-level care the moment they arrive at the patients' bedside," Dr. Wilcox said. "Knowing that I play even a small role in such an integral organization is incredibly fulfilling. I always think of a medical control call I received on Christmas Eve, during the H1N1 epidemic. A young woman was in respiratory failure, and the team was taking her from a community hospital to a downtown hospital for consideration for ECMO [Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation].
“Her oxygen levels were dangerously low, and the Boston MedFlight team had already gone through extensive maneuvers to try to make it safer to transport her. We talked off and on for over an hour, as the team and I discussed options to improve her oxygenation. She eventually made it safely to the downtown hospital, and she lived. I recall being so impressed with the team, as they methodically worked through the issues, balancing patient safety with the need to move her as soon as possible. I was so proud to be part of this organization when I went to visit her in the receiving hospital.”
What physicians give and what physicians gain from the associate medical director role
At Boston MedFlight we are extremely grateful to the physicians who let our teams and our patients benefit from their expertise and their passion for excellence in critical care. We are thrilled that they come away from the associate medical director experience having learned from us as much as we have learned from them.
Over the years our associate medical directors have said how much they have gained personally from directly observing actual transports, as this helps them understand better the challenges of transporting critically ill patients by ground and air.
|Dr. Michael Cocchi|
“I think unless you have worked alongside the crew or have been a patient who has benefited from their care, you may not have a true appreciation of the absolutely phenomenal high quality care Boston MedFlight crews provide to their patients in what are frankly extremely challenging environments,” said Dr. Cocchi. "The pilots, communications staff and other support staff keep everyone safe and allow the clinicians to provide exceptional care to incredibly complex patients. I am proud to be part of this team.”
Dr. Wilcox added that the associate medical director role is one she would recommend to any other physician. "I cannot tell you how much I have learned, and how working in this culture of excellence has improved my practice as a physician in other areas of medicine," she said. "I would note, however, that to work with Boston MedFlight, one has to appreciate the 24/7 nature of the work. Knowing that working at Boston MedFlight is a privilege makes it much easier to field 3am phone calls!”
Looking from the outside in: perceptions of Boston MedFlight
Our associate medical directors fill an unusual position, because although they work so closely with us on our cases, they also spend their workdays immersed in the hospital environment. We asked the doctors whether their own perceptions of Boston MedFlight have changed since they began working with us – and, whether they believe the work at Boston MedFlight does is fully understood by those who haven't worked as closely with us.
"Often, people think that the value of Boston MedFlight is that we have helicopters," Dr. Wilcox said. "Helicopters are just machines, and they by themselves do little to improve outcomes. What makes Boston MedFlight an incredible organization, and what makes Boston MedFlight so important for critically ill patients, is the incredible nurses and paramedics who work here.
“Few recognize the countless hours of training, education, practice, and experience that goes into working for MedFlight. The goal of the organization is to bring evidence-based, ICU-level care to patients in need. If someone I loved were critically ill and needed transport, I wouldn't care that they went in a helicopter - but I would be so grateful to have them cared for by Boston MedFlight teams.”
Read part one of It takes a village: putting the spotlight on our Communications, IT and Education teams at Boston MedFlight