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Celebrating Healthcare Professionals - Matt Silver

Posted by Renee Cocchi

Apr 15th 2022

Oakstone CME is excited to celebrate healthcare professionals like you this month! Each week we will be spotlighting one of our own contributors so you can get to know the people behind the content.

Matthew Silver, MD, is a self-described workaholic. So, if you ask him what job he’d like to have if not for his chosen career in medicine, you might be surprised by his response. The Residency Program Director at Kaiser Permanente, Emergency Medicine, San Diego Medical Center, and Associate Professor of Clinical Sciences at KP School of Medicine, would be a ski bum!

Yes, you read that right!

“I love to ski. My joke was always that I wanted to live in a van at the base of a ski mountain somewhere,” said Matthew with a chuckle. Despite the lure, the ski slopes did not win out – a career in medicine beckoned.  

In junior high, Matthew excelled at math and science. During college he was a lifeguard, a swim instructor, and a basic life support instructor. He also got his EMT degree and worked as a EMT volunteer. So, medicine was a logical fit.

Before settling on emergency medicine, Matthew was not certain where he’d end up. “I actually went into medical school liking a little bit of everything.” He considered pediatrics, surgery, trauma surgery, and internal medicine. But the pull of the emergency department was strong.

“I don’t know if I chose it or it chose me,” recalls Matthew. “It just fit. I sort of found ‘my people’ in the emergency department.”

He described emergency medicine as the crossroads of every specialty. “They say it’s the best fifteen minutes of every specialty,” laughs Matthew. “It’s fun, social, team-based, and you get to learn about a lot of things. And, generally speaking, in emergency medicine we tend to work hard and play hard, be outgoing, be conversationalists, and we’re a little bit of adrenalin junkies. It just seemed to be a good fit for me.”

He also loves that emergency medicine allows him to wear different hats. “I’ve really been able to diversify my career,” says Matthew. “We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Find something you love doing and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I've been able to find many things I love doing! I’ve been able to pick other professions within medicine that have kept me going. So, whether it’s being an administrator, entrepreneur, educator, author, mentor, or therapist, I’ve been able to do other things within my profession.”

That’s why Matthew’s advice for future physicians would be to go into their chosen field with eyes wide open, seek opportunities whenever they can, and enjoy what they do.

“There are physicians who may be disgruntled and give advice like, ‘This isn’t a field you should pursue,’” says Matthew. “But for me I find immense joy in emergency medicine. We see all ages and all walks of life. We play a role in public health, injury, disease, and prevention.”

In additional to practicing clinical medicine, Matthew has a passion for teaching, which started in his days as chief resident at Jacobi Medical Center in New York. In that role he was heavily involved in mentoring newer residents, building the didactic calendar, and instructing. After residency, he stayed on and became the Assistant Program Director. When he moved west in 2009, his department at KP didn’t have a residency program, so he helped start one and became the founding Program Director.

Now with Oakstone CME, Matthew has expanded his educational efforts to include CME. He serves as the Chief Clinical Editor for Emergency Medicine Insider. “Creating CME programs for practicing physicians opened my eyes to the world of CME.” He’s been involved with continuing education on a national level, both on the planning and delivery sides through different medical organizations. In fact, he’s been on Kaiser Permanente’s planning committee for its annual emergency medicine symposium and will be taking over as chair.

Over the years, Matthew’s learned that the key to making CME fun and successful is to keep it learner centered. He focuses on the learners through small group discussions, hands-on interactive sessions, pairing and sharing, and the like.

“I try to get as far away from death by PowerPoint as possible,” chuckles Matthew. “If I’m doing a podium talk and I’m using PowerPoint, I apply the 10-minute rule. So, every 10 minutes I throw in Q&A, discussions, or interactive polling. Anything, just to keep it interactive. And I keep it short because people’s attention spans are short.”

One final thought Matthew would like to impart to his future colleagues: “We are not defined by our mistakes and failure, but rather how we react to them. I think outside of medicine we live in an uncertain world. And life in general is a give and take. We need to have an innate sense of flexibility. And when we stumble backward, just keep the big picture in mind, don’t get frustrated, don’t give up. Reset, rebound, push ahead.”


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