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Erik Hess named new Chair of Department of Emergency Medicine

May. 7, 2020, 10:35 AM


by John Howser

Erik Hess, MD, MSc

Erik Hess, MD, MSc, professor and interim chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Medicine, has been named the new chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He will join the faculty on July 1.

Hess, a physician-scientist, succeeds Corey Slovis, MD, who has served as the department’s leader for the past 28 years.

Slovis will remain on the faculty, continuing to be actively engaged in the department’s educational activities, and will keep representing VUMC in the community by continuing to serve as medical director for the Nashville Fire Department and Nashville International Airport.

Hess, a Memphis native, is a graduate of the UAB School of Medicine and served on the faculty at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for 12 years before rejoining UAB in his current role.

He joins VUMC at an important time as the nation’s departments of emergency medicine are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. VUMC’s department, with its highly accomplished physicians, nurses and staff, continues to play an instrumental role in Nashville’s response to the pandemic.

“We are delighted that Dr. Hess is joining the Medical Center in this important leadership role, and at this critical juncture. Erik has an impressive vision for the department’s future. His leadership experience spans the department’s missions, from clinical operations to outcomes research and training. I look forward to working with him as he shapes the department and the Medical Center’s future in emergency care and services,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Slovis for decades of leadership and a countless number of important contributions to the Medical Center’s growth and success. Corey is widely respected here and among emergency medicine leaders across the country, and we have all learned from him.”

VUMC’s Adult Emergency Department is among the nation’s busiest, caring for nearly 70,000 patients each year.

The department, along with the Vanderbilt Trauma Center and Vanderbilt Regional Burn Center, combine to offer Middle Tennessee’s only Level I trauma service. The department also includes an Emergency Medical Services division that offers ground, air, tactical, airport and event medicine, and provides medical direction for Metro Nashville’s Fire, EMS and SWAT personnel.

The department houses one of the nation’s most competitive residency programs in Emergency Medicine and ranks among the nation’s top 10 in NIH research funding. The department’s faculty are widely recognized as leading clinicians and educators and are frequently selected for teaching awards and other distinguished recognitions.

“The Department of Emergency Medicine continues to be the front door to our Medical Center for a high percentage of patients. The department not only saves many lives but serves an essential role in the success of our health system. I feel confident that Dr. Hess can help support and grow the department’s offerings and look forward to his partnership as we focus on advancing our mission,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

Hess is the author or co-author of more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. His research interests are focused on shared decision making, decision science and ameliorating disparities in public health.

He has co-authored American Heart Association guidelines and successfully competed for grants from the NIH, PCORI, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Emergency Medicine Foundation, among other foundations.

He is a member of the editorial board of Academic Emergency Medicine and has served as peer reviewer for a number of medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, BMJ, Health Affairs, Circulation, Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Annals of Emergency Medicine, among others.

“I am very excited to watch Dr. Hess take our department to new heights and think emergency medicine at Vanderbilt will have unlimited potential under his leadership,” said Slovis.

Hess earned his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College and his Doctor of Medicine from UAB. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Mayo Clinic where he also completed a fellowship in Critical Care Medicine. He also earned a Master of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Ottawa, where he completed a fellowship in Clinical Research at the University of Ottawa Health Research Institute.

He will be joined in Nashville by his wife, Jennifer, who is also an emergency medicine physician.

“It is an honor to take the baton from Dr. Slovis and to lead such a well-respected department into a bright future. I look forward to striving together to elevate the human condition as we discover, teach and deliver care that demonstrates compassion and respect for every individual in times of emergency, no matter their personal characteristics or what door of the health system they enter,” Hess said.

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