Leaders in Medical Education

Dr. Kenneth Steier, Founding Dean at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine - Middletown

Thasin Jaigirdar
Feb 16, 2015

Dr. Steier is board certified in internal, pulmonary, and critical care. He has previously served as associate dean and chair at the Deparment of Medicine at the Kansas city University of Medicine and Biosciences, and was also a clinical assistant dean at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Kenneth Steier currently serves as the Dean of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Middletown Campus. He has taught courses in clinical systems and clinical medicine. He also holds many additional degrees including an MBA, MPH, MGH and an MHA.

What is your background and how did you get interested in medicine?

I lived in Glen Oaks, Queens until I was 12 and then my family moved to Brooklyn. I played all sports but wanted to become a physician, although there are none in my family. I attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook as a premedical student, and subsequently was accepted to the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, New York. My family doctor in Brooklyn was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and I shadowed him in college and he directed me towards this career option.

How did you become involved in medical education?

I have always been interested in medical education. As an intern, I organized our didactic lectures. As a resident I ran the hospital morning report and journal club. As a new attending, I was selected as the “Teacher of the Year,” by the hospital interns and residents. I was later voted “Preceptor of the Year” by the medical students at NYCOM. The truth is that I have always enjoyed academic medicine, and have served as a Director of Medical Education, Residency Director, Assistant Dean, Associate Dean and now Dean.

I see that you have an MBA, MHA, MPH, and MGH. I am curious, what was your reasoning behind going back to school for additional degrees? Also, we now see many doctors going back to school to get additional degrees. What are your thoughts on this trend?

More doctors are becoming involved in medical administration and finance. In order to have input into the decisions being made in running hospitals and clinics, physicians need the appropriate background and training.  These multiple degrees give me the vocabulary, and the training, to participate in all aspects of running a medical school or hospital. I think this is a great trend as more physicians are taking leadership roles in the medical community, and serving as strong advocates for their patients.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you work in overcoming it? 

The biggest challenge in my career was dealing with the changing leadership at the CEO level of the hospitals and medical schools I worked at. Adapting to different management styles, different goals, and different personalities is a huge challenge at my level. I have worked hard to learn how to work effectively with many different styles and personalities.

What advice do you give undergraduate students seeking a career in medicine?

My advice is to keep at it and never give up. There will be many peaks and valleys and the important thing is to stick with it. Many people will try to talk you out of a career in medicine, but if that’s what you want, you should stick with it. I also suggest learning as much as possible about medicine and medical careers. If the physician role doesn’t have appeal, there are many other healthcare jobs that are worthwhile.

Any final thoughts you would like to add?

Despite statements to the contrary, being a physician is still a great career. Helping sick patients and saving lives will always be a noble and valued profession.  It requires a tremendous amount of dedication and hard work, but the payoffs are enormous, spiritually, emotionally and financially.

Becoming a kind, caring, compassionate medical professional is a great goal, and very possible if you put the work in.