Matt McKenzie, PharmD, BCCCP, is a pharmacist at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, USA. He joined the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) in 2018 and is a member of the Social Media Committee. His clinical interests include infection, shock, immunocompromised hosts, and professional development. During his free time, you can find him playing golf and traveling. Dr. McKenzie shares his thoughts about critical care.
Why do you love being in critical care?
From student to resident to critical care clinical pharmacy specialist, I've enjoyed the mentorship, rapid dynamics, and the unknown associated with practicing in the ICU. I love getting to learn something new every day!
How did you get into critical care?
I wanted to do either critical care or oncology for the better part of my time in pharmacy school and my first year of residency. I had great mentors in pharmacy school that I shadowed and worked on projects with from both disciplines. Given the fast-paced nature, versatility, and uniqueness, I ended up choosing critical care. Now that I work at MD Anderson Cancer Center and care for critically ill oncology patients who come through our emergency department, I get the best of both worlds.
What advice do you have for those starting their critical care careers?
Early in my career, my most rewarding experience was getting involved in local and national organizations that I was passionate about. There are many benefits of getting involved, including networking, mentorship, and career advancement. I've made so many friends along the way from multiple disciplines whom I would otherwise never have met!
What industry trends have you excited about the future?
I'm excited to see what is to come with artificial intelligence in the manufacturing processes for research and development and overall drug discovery.
What do you see as the most challenging issue facing critical care?
In the peri-COVID era, a struggle that I have seen and personally been involved with has been in retaining critical care clinicians of all disciplines. This mass exodus to other jobs or even other professions has left a lot of clinicians reflecting on their burnout and job satisfaction.
What is your biggest professional achievement?
One of the achievements I'm most proud of was taking part in a medical mission trip to Honduras, where we cared for nearly 1000 patients with pulmonary, GI, and neurologic disorders in a week.
What are the top advances in critical care since you started your career?
From a medication standpoint, andexanet alfa and angiotensin II have been the newest advances since I have been out of pharmacy school, and both are slowly starting to be used by more healthcare systems. Although not specific to critical care, an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19 is a huge advancement. Its tremendous success has opened up the realm of possibility for mRNA-based vaccines for diseases we thought previously incurable, including HIV. I'm excited to see what is to come with this technology finally receiving the attention it deserves.
What do you love about SCCM membership?
Being a recent critical care pharmacy resident graduate, I've found that SCCM, particularly engagement through Twitter, has been such a valuable and integral tool in my daily professional life. I had no idea that the platform on which I followed only the St. Louis Cardinals 10 years ago I would use every day to be a better critical care pharmacist and form connections to advance patient care and teaching.
Connect with @Matt McKenzie on SCCM Connect or on Twitter at @mgm485.