Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Mark Reiter, American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Osmosis Team
Jun 19, 2014

Dr. Mark Reiter serves as the President of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. He is also the CEO of Emergency Excellence, a company committed to improving the efficiency of the emergency department. We had the pleasure to speak with him about his medical career and leadership experience.

How did you decide on a career in medicine?

Medicine offered an opportunity to do work that was both meaningful, challenging, and intellectually stimulating.

What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

I have been heavily involved with the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) for 10 years, and was recently elected President of AAEM.  AAEM is a relentless advocate for the practicing emergency physician.  It has been very rewarding developing lasting relationships with emergency medicine leaders and working towards a common goal of maximizing the impact of quality emergency medicine for our physicians and the patients they serve.

It seems that more medical students are pursuing interdisciplinary careers and degrees (MD/MPH, MD/MBA, etc). Can you describe how you managed to combine your career in medicine with your interest in leadership?

Additional training, such as my MBA, has also helped prepare me to become a more effective leader within professional organizations, within the emergency department, and within my consulting company, Emergency Excellence.  In particular, being involved in organized medicine has been incredibly useful. I'd encourage all physicians, no matter what field or what stage of training, to get involved with professional organizations. You have to be involved to see the big picture, which allows you to advocate more effectively for your patients, your colleagues and your profession.

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What would you change about medical education?

l think medical education focuses too much on pre-clinical science.  Although it is important to have a solid foundation, the important preclinical concepts could be covered in a year, leaving more time for clinical instruction or perhaps even shortening the time for medical school.

Every few weeks there appears to be a new report discussing burnout rates of physicians and the fact that many would decide not to pursue medicine if given the chance. In this somewhat disheartening environment, do you have any advice for current medical students about avoiding burnout? Or more general advice? 

It's important to select a specialty that you can be happy practicing for a career.  If you pick a career mainly based on a high income or a perceived easier lifestyle, it shouldn't be surprising when you develop burnout.

After residency, it is extremely important to find the right job for you.  Good relationship with colleagues, staff, and administrators and a supportive practice environment can mean all the difference between a great job and a terrible job.  I've also seen that the most satisfied physicians are involved in something more than their clinical practice, such as academics, leadership, community involvement, etc.