May 30, 2008
Celebrating a leader of emergency medicine

In 1980, emergency medicine was added to the roster of specialties in which U.S. physicians could choose to become board certified. While this development ushered in the modern era of emergency medicine, the MGH Emergency Department's (ED) own modern age truly began eight years later with the recruitment of Alasdair K. Conn, MD. Trained in Maryland, Scotland and Canada, Conn has served as the chief of MGH Emergency Services for 20 years. A special ceremony was held May 7 to mark this anniversary as well as the overall


development of the hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine.

prestipino conn and austen

CELEBRATING A MILESTONE: From left, Prestipino, Conn and W. Gerald Austen, MD, chair of the MGH Chiefs Council

Observing the fine-tuned operations of the ED today and the crucial role it plays in fulfilling the MGH's mission, it is difficult to imagine emergency medicine practiced at the hospital in any other way. And yet, when Conn arrived at the hospital 20 years ago as chief of thehospital's newest department, he was charged with building the MGH's first, world-class Emergency Department. According to Peter L. Slavin, MD, "Alasdair has been a true architect of emergency medicine at the MGH, both literally and figuratively." Under Conn's supervision, the clinical space has been upgraded and currently serves more than 80,000 patients per year. Conn also oversaw the recruitment of much of the department's dedicated faculty: The ED has grown from only a few attending physicians to a staff of 37 emergency medicine-credentialed physicians. In addition, the ED now houses a robust research program and a joint residency program with BWH for 56 residents while also serving as a training ground for dozens of young clinicians from other specialties.

Speakers at the anniversary event included Slavin; Ann Prestipino, senior vice president for Surgical and Anesthesia Services and Clinical Business Development; and David Brown, MD, vice chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine. Conn was then regaled with a poem reflecting his achievements and presented with a plaque and a lab coat bearing the signatures of the many nurses, administrators and physicians from the ED. In his remarks, Conn noted, "It has been my great honor to lead the department of Emergency Medicine for the last two decades, and I have been so fortunate to work with an amazing group of people. The support of the hospital's leadership and my wonderful colleagues has been absolutely invaluable, and I look forward to leading the department into the hospital's third century."

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