A little girl lies on a stretcher, unresponsive from car-accident injuries, while paramedics rush a teenage gang member riddled with bullets through triage. In a nearby room, the president of a prestigious brokerage firm may be having a heart attack.
Age, racial and socio-economic boundaries cease to exist in emergency medicine — anyone can come through the emergency room doors with any ailment at any time.
And that unpredictable intensity has long drawn graduating School of Medicine student Adit Ginde to emergency medicine.
“I love the diversity of patients — everything comes our way,” Ginde says. “Emergency medicine not only requires a wide range of knowledge and an open mind, but you also must have the ability to make decisions rapidly.”
The fast-paced emergency department is often labeled as “high-stress,” but Ginde’s approach demonstrates that the field is only stressful for some, explains Eric D. Katz, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and assistant director of the Emergency Medicine Residency Program.
“Adit keeps his head in tough situations and has an innate love for his work,” Katz says.
Ginde explains that with the increasing number of Americans who don’t have insurance (41.2 million in 2002, reports the Census Bureau), many people use the ER as their doctor’s office, which allows him to treat a wide range of symptoms.
But the ability to care for patients from all walks of life with diverse illnesses isn’t the only reason Ginde thrives in the ER.
“He’s also an excellent fit within academic emergency medicine,” Katz says. “Adit has the drive to master the knowledge base easily and adds to it with solid research, critical insight and an open-minded approach.”
As the medical field’s newest specialty, emergency medicine also offers a great opportunity to affect change from an academic perspective.
The mobile army surgical hospital units that provided the wounded immediate care during the Korean War served as a template for the modern ER, but until as recently as 1970 there was still virtually no emergency-care training in the United States, let alone research of the field.
“Emergency medicine remains relatively uncharted and provides a wide range of academic opportunities that can meaningfully contribute to the growth of the field,” says Ginde, who will begin a residency in emergency medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University this summer.
A public-service mission
Ginde knew he wanted be a doctor at a very early age — a notion that undoubtedly was influenced by his parents. His father is a neurosurgeon; his mother is a pathologist.
Ginde’s inclination toward emergency medicine emerged during his freshman year at Rice University, where he volunteered to work night shifts responding to 911 calls for a local ambulance service. That experience soon motivated him to help start an on-campus emergency medical service at the university.
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Establishing public-health programs continues to be one of Ginde’s priorities. Less than a month into his first year at the School of Medicine, he founded the Community CPR Program, in which medical students visit churches and schools in low-income areas to teach CPR and first aid.
Last September, Ginde also founded a smoking-cessation program — tentatively called “Kicking Butts” — that helps people quit by stressing behavior modification and building motivation.
“He’s single-handedly designed and developed the programs,” says Yoon Kang, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and faculty adviser for the CPR and smoking-cessation programs. “His enthusiasm and dedication to public-health efforts are clearly the reason why both of these programs are so well-received — he is the energy behind their success.”
While at the medical school, Ginde also co-authored an Association of American Medical Colleges grant that enabled the medical school to purchase portable devices that allow immediate detection of lead poisoning, which disproportionately affects children in low-income areas.
But Ginde’s most eye-opening public-health experience was the two months he spent in a city hospital in Bombay, India, where the lack of accessible health care continues to be a monumental problem for many of the city’s 16 million people.
Public health also is an interest that Ginde shares with his fiancée, Kara Penn, who works on environmental health issues at St. Mary’s Hospital in East St. Louis. The couple looks forward to advocating policy issues that affect access to care, both in the United States and abroad.
“Adit has a longstanding and profound commitment to public service,” says Leslie Kahl, M.D., associate professor of medicine and associate dean for student affairs. “He has brought to that commitment superb organizational and networking skills, along with great energy and personal warmth.”