Elizabeth H. Mack, MD, MS, FCCM, is a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, and she is a principal of high reliability at Vizient Inc. She joined the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) in 2005, and you can listen as she hosts the SCCM podcast. You can find her working out, traveling, and spending time with her husband and fur babies when she is not working. Her clinical interests include pediatrics, ethics and end of life, and quality and patient safety. Learn more about Dr. Mack and her love for pediatric critical care.
How did you get into critical care?
I did acting internships in the pediatric intensive care unit and otolaryngology, and I found my people in pediatric critical care! I enjoyed the variety and the ability of intensivists to quickly form intense relationships with patients and families. My medical school and residency mentors (Robert D. Hubbird, MD, Mark J. McDonald, MD, MHA, and Greta S. Harper, MD) encouraged me to consider pediatric critical care, and my fellowship faculty at Cincinnati Children’s (especially Rich Brilli, MD, MCCM, and Derek Wheeler, MD, MMM, MBA, FCCM) encouraged me in the quality improvement realm. I am so thankful for their time and energy!
Why do you love being in critical care?
In the early days, I thrived on the adrenaline, procedures, and resuscitations. I still very much enjoy those, but I have taken on communication, particularly around end of life, as an authentic challenge.
What do you see as the most challenging issue facing critical care?
There are so many tough issues facing critical care teams today! One is workforce and sustainability of our profession. Several members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Critical Care Executive Committee are working on a manuscript addressing the question of what is considered a 1.0 clinical full-time employee in pediatric critical care. We must create healthy staffing models to ensure sustainability and attract trainees. Another issue is the impact of decisions affecting bedside care being made by the legal system. Clinicians in partnership with patients and families no longer have autonomy over decisions around what constitutes provision of medically indicated therapies. These issues make ethics, palliative care, debriefing, and peer support more relevant than ever.
What do you love about SCCM membership?
I enjoy the networking, education from experts in the field, and the leadership opportunities.
Connect with @Elizabeth Mack on SCCM Connect or Twitter @emacksc!