June 2, 2011

Rush takes on new role: acting Pediatrics chair

Featured Image

Margaret Rush, M.D., chief of staff for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, has been named acting chair of the Department of Pediatrics. (Photo by John Russell)

Rush takes on new role: acting Pediatrics chair

Margaret “Meg” Rush, M.D., arrived at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1984 as a motivated resident passionate about helping the tiniest of patients in Neonatology.

She found her home at Vanderbilt, joining the faculty in 1990. Over the past two decades she has engaged Vanderbilt's mission in all of its features — beginning her career as an investigator, becoming a leader in education and clinical care, and ultimately emerging as a senior administrative leader as she was named chief of staff for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in 2007.

Putting on yet another hat, Rush will serve as acting chair of the Department of Pediatrics while she continues to serve as chief of staff for the hospital.

“Dr. Rush has that special something we seek in Vanderbilt leaders — a way with people that assures us we are understood and valued,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “And her passion for Children's Hospital and for the health and wellness of the children is palpable in everything she does. We are truly grateful and fortunate she has agreed to lead one of the largest and most influential departments in the Medical Center, as acting chair of Pediatrics.”

Jonathan Gitlin, M.D., James C. Overall Professor and chair of Pediatrics, began a scholarly leave from his duties as chair and assistant vice chancellor, effective June 1.

“Dr. Rush has earned the respect of our faculty, staff and community pediatricians through her commitment to serving others,” said Luke Gregory, chief executive officer for Children's Hospital. “She eagerly volunteers for the most challenging situations while welcoming collaboration among the staff. Meg represents the very best characteristics of her profession and I admire her energy and devotion to children's health care. Our hospital and University are fortunate to have her in this critical role.”

Rush has been an integral part of the growth and development of Children's Hospital. She engaged in basic science research following her fellowship training, studying the role of Vitamin A in lung development. This experience led her to play a key role with the Institutional Review Board, helping restructure the institution's policies and direction in human subjects research.

“It is indeed a pleasure for me to work alongside Meg in her new role,” said John W. Brock III, Monroe Carell Jr. Chair, director of the Division of Pediatric Urology and Children's Hospital surgeon-in-chief.

“Meg exemplifies everything that is good about the people who work at Children's Hospital. She is a tireless worker, a tremendous advocate for children and has the integrity and demeanor to provide great leadership for this very important department. She is truly a quiet superstar, and we are very fortunate that she has accepted this leadership position.”

In recent years, Rush has served as program director for Fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, associate director of Pediatric Transport, medical director of Neonatal Transport and co-chair of VUMC's Ethics Committee.

William Cooper, M.D., professor and vice chair of Pediatrics, says he has looked to Rush as a mentor since he was a medical student more than 20 years ago.

“In all of my subsequent dealings with her, through our mutual roles as chairs of IRB committees and in our work together in the Department of Pediatrics, I have considered her a role model for her thoughtful and considerate approach to problem solving,” said Cooper.

“Meg pursues excellence in everything she does and this allows her to make a difference for the children and families we serve."

Rush, an Ohio native, has spent more than half her life in Nashville, arriving just after graduation from the University of Cincinnati Medical School. Her passion for medicine began as a teenager, growing when her father planted the seed for her to go to medical school. He told her to exemplify for others a balance between personal and professional life.

She has done that, establishing herself in the field of medicine, in the community and in motherhood.

She has earned notable honors, including the titles of “Woman to Watch in Medicine” by Nashville Medical News in 2008.

She has two daughters, Katie, a 20-year-old junior at Belmont University who is majoring in biology, and Libby, a 17-year-old rising senior at Ensworth High School in Nashville, who has a passion for the arts and dance.

Outside Children's Hospital, Rush is a yoga aficionado. She has even considered pursuit of the first level of teacher training in yoga. She also is a youth mentor to young girls at her church, Brentwood Methodist. Tapping into her artistic side, she dabbles in jewelry making and collage art.

Rush looks forward to working with VUMC leadership in the coming months with the multi-year, multi-phase expansion to the physical space and ensuing programmatic growth to Children's Hospital already under way.

“The department and hospital have grown at an exponential rate over the past five years,” Rush said. “The department is a leader in research funding by the NIH and is recognized for excellence in training programs and in clinical care in a number of subspecialties.

“My goal is to continue this forward momentum in a way that makes sense and creates even greater synergies between the department, the hospital and pediatric surgical services. I am honored to have been asked to steward this great department as acting chair.”