Mitchell Rashkin, MD, said he didn’t expect to direct the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) at UC Health University Hospital for long.
But now, after 29 years, he’s finally passing the baton.
"I was finishing my pulmonary fellowship at UC in 1982 and they needed someone to fill this role,” says the professor in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine who retires as director of the MICU Sept. 30. "I was only looking to stay another year or so.
"You can see I stayed longer than a year.”
Rashkin received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1977. He then did an internship and completed his residency and fellowship training at UC before becoming a faculty member.
In his role, Rashkin says he had the honor of watching the unit grow both in technology and reputation over the years and was actually involved in helping design the existing MICU from the ground up.
"It was always exciting being on the floor,” he says. "I’ll miss that. I’ve been able to see things over the last 29 years that some doctors only get to read about. It’s been wonderful working with the medical students, residents and fellows.”
He adds that he will continuing his clinical duties at Drake and teaching duties at UC, but really feels that it was time to give the responsibility to someone else.
"I’m not retiring—just changing job titles,” he says. "It’s nice to push someone new ahead. David Norton, MD, will do an excellent job, and I’m proud to have him take over for me.”
Barb Smith, head nurse of the MICU, has worked with Rashkin over the past four years, and while looking forward to working more closely with Norton, she says she has seen an incredible leader in Rashkin.
"He has a number of accomplishments here, including the creation of several new programs that have increased efficiency and improved care delivered to patients,” she says. "It has been such a pleasure to work with such a talented physician, and I’ll miss seeing him every day.”
Frank McCormack, MD, chief of the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, agrees, noting that Rashkin could be the longest-running MICU director in the country.
"After 10,683 days in this position, Dr. Rashkin has overseen 35,000 admissions to the MICU and about 140,000 patient days of MICU care,” he says. "His contributions to UC and University Hospital are worthy of a high level of recognition. He has driven continuous improvement in ICU care here over almost three decades, and has trained several generations of residents and fellows in the care of our sickest patients. We congratulate him on his distinguished record of service.”
More about Norton:
David Norton, MD, assistant professor in the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, received his medical degree from the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1997, and completed his residency in internal medicine at the David Grant United States Air Force Medical Center in 2000 as well as a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine from the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, in 2003. Norton is a former lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and has served four tours of duty.
How long have you been at UC?
"I’ve been at UC for a little over two years. During my last Air Force assignment, I served as the course director for the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) CCATT Advanced Course. A CCATT is a Critical Care Air Transport Team—a critical care physician, critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist. These are the teams that fly critically ill and wounded service members back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. CCATTs are also used to support medical missions around the world and as part of disaster response teams here in the U.S. and abroad as well. Every CCATT comes to the UC C-STARS program for an intensive two-week training program prior to deployment. I attended the same course as a student prior to deployments in 2006 and 2007. I was assigned to the UC division of trauma and critical care under the direction of Col. Warren Dorlac, USAF, MC, C-STARS Commander, as well as Col, Jay Johannigman, USAFR, MC, division director of UC’s trauma and critical care. I attended in the UC MICU, UC inpatient pulmonary consult service, UC Surgical Intensive Care Unit, the VA Cincinnati MICU and VA Cincinnati pulmonary consult service during my Air Force assignment. I separated from the Air Force after 14 years of active duty on July 29, 2011, and started working for UC on July 30.”
Why did you decide to take on the role as director of the UC Health University Hospital MICU?
"Under Dr. Rashkin’s leadership and through the efforts of numerous people over the past 30 years, UC has built an excellent medical ICU that is the standard that other ICUs in the region are measured against. Our division and department leadership, as well as that of the College of Medicine and University Hospital, has offered me the opportunity to further Dr. Rashkin’s work and help guide the MICU into the future. The environment here has been very supportive and forward thinking, and the possibilities for innovation are truly limitless. It is rare in one’s career that such openness is encouraged in an institution of this size. So, it is probably more accurate to say that I was lucky that the position presented itself.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
"Most jobs of this type are a bit time consuming. I try to give as much time to my family as possible, so most of my spare time these days centers on playing with my 3-year-old son Benjamin and watching every animated movie put out by DreamWorks or Disney/Pixar in the last five decades. I do enjoy long distance running and like to do that when possible. I’ve run just over 30 marathons over the years, most since 2000.”
Norton was recently in attendance at the Sept. 16, 2011, Reno Air Race, where a P-51 Mustang crashed into a crowd of spectators, killing 11 and injuring 66, according to news reports. Norton jumped in to help paramedics tend to those needing medical assistance. To hear his vivid account of the events, click here.