Jaspal Singh, MD, MS, FCCM, is a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Atrium Health and Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. He joined the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) in 2003 and is currently involved with SCCM’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Tele-Critical Care Collaborative Network. You can find him traveling and working out when he is not busy with critical care. Learn more about Dr. Singh’s love for critical care and his viewpoints about the future of the field.
How did you get into critical care?
I loved critical care as a medical student, from procedural elements to caring for some of the most complex patients. Now I love counseling patients and families through the difficult time of their illness while we manage their life support mechanisms.
What advice do you have for those starting their critical care careers?
Enjoy the journey and learn what you can from others, including those from outside your discipline. Spend time with those willing to teach and collaborate with you while getting to know them personally. Those personal connections matter.
Why do you love being in critical care?
I have always loved critical care as it has so much depth and breadth to offer. The geek side of me loves the physiology and innovation, the proceduralist in me loves using my hands, and the social side of me loves the interdisciplinary and multiprofessional collaboration that happens in real time.
But the real draw of critical care has always been the opportunity to see patients at a very challenging part of their lives, to have meaningful conversations with family members, and to get a ringside seat into the human spirit. Few professions offer such an amazing array of meaningful opportunities.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
My greatest professional achievement was perhaps being named the 2020 Physician of the Year by my organization, Atrium Health. This award was meant to recognize a physician who exemplifies the values of innovation, patient care, education, leadership, and diversity. Much of that award was predicated on our work related to tele-critical care, multiprofessional growth (respiratory therapists, advanced practice providers [APPs]), intensive care unit (ICU) protocols, and other critical care-related work.
Within SCCM, my greatest professional achievement was coediting the second edition of the ICU Liberation book along with the brilliant Patricia J. Posa, BSN, MSA, FAAN, and Joanna L. Stollings, PharmD, FCCM, two stalwart leaders from whom I have had the privilege of learning so much.
What are the top advances in critical care since you started your career?
There have been so many advances it’s hard to count, but perhaps the ICU Liberation Bundle (A-F), because consistent application of the bundle could help save many lives when done well. It’s not as exciting as many other aspects of critical care, but its application makes an impact to patients each and every day. Also, doing it well can transform an ICU’s culture so positively.
I also really love that tele-critical care has finally established itself as a true means of providing care, that team-based rounds with dedicated critical care pharmacists and respiratory therapists have proven their value, and that APPs have proven their mettle in the ICU. Technologically, the emergence of bedside ultrasound, videolaryngoscopy, new life support systems (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, smarter ventilators, renal/liver support, etc.), and newer drugs have all emerged.
What do you see as the most challenging issue facing critical care?
I believe the most challenging issue in critical care is a crisis of leadership. We need more clinicians to become exceptional leaders, including at the bedside with their teams—those skilled leaders also need to have real voices in the myriad of challenges today and in the future. SCCM provides opportunities for both leadership and collaboration with each other. Still, we need more people globally to help us lead through staffing challenges, technological/research integration, financial/operational challenges, advocacy, and other key aspects. Otherwise, I fear this will be done for us by those who may not have the skills to do so and may not have the interests of our patients at heart.
What industry trends have you excited about the future?
I am especially excited about how artificial intelligence/machine learning can help us in critical care as we evolve and personalize our care to the patient’s needs. I also like the trend of providing critical care outside large teaching hospitals through augmented support to smaller facilities, pre- and post-hospital care, and even the home. Critical care in all these environments seems not only realizable but an increasing imperative, and it is exciting that we seem to be developing the tools to do this well.
What do you love about SCCM membership?
SCCM’s multiprofessional emphasis allows me to have multiple opportunities to learn and excel at all levels of critical care (clinical, research, administrative) while learning how to improve care for my own patients and community. The journals and educational opportunities are excellent, but I most enjoy the ability to learn from colleagues who are incredibly mission focused, humbled, and yet accomplished. SCCM's Critical Care Congress is a venue that is so welcoming to our whole ICU team from all disciplines. Most importantly, everyone I meet is so willing to freely share their thoughts and ideas. SCCM is a truly collaborative environment, and I feel so privileged to be part of the organization.
Connect with @Jaspal Singh on SCCM Connect or Twitter @Singh011Jaspal