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In April 2021, I assumed the role of Chief of Orthopaedics for Grady Memorial Hospital and Director of Orthopaedic Trauma for Emory University.

In addition, I am the Medical Director of Surgical Informatics for Grady — and I spend a lot of time optimizing the medical records to maximize efficiency and enable meaningful analytics.

Our hospital is extremely busy with trauma — we had over 10,000 trauma activations in 2021, 5,000 of which were Level 1 traumas. We have a comprehensive group of faculty at Grady that include trauma, hand, spine, sports, joints, foot and ankle and non-operative musculoskeletal care.

Building a stronger department — starting at the individual level

This year has been incredibly gratifying — largely because it has given me a completely new perspective on my role in faculty, staff, and trainee development, as well as the strategic positioning of the ortho department in the hospital. I have really enjoyed identifying what makes each member of our team excited about the future of our group and getting their perspective on how they want to contribute as an individual. I am continually refining our group’s purpose based on our collective individual strengths — and am really excited for the next few years of realizing this purpose.

One of the most challenging parts of the job has been balancing competing interests — particularly related to the staffing crisis this year. For about 6 months, despite trauma numbers being our highest ever, we were down 20% of our usual OR access. Every day was a reshuffling of priorities — and required difficult conversations with my trauma and elective faculty and with the patients.

The Next Opportunity for Growth: My MBA

In January 2022, I started my MBA at Northwestern/Kellogg School of Management. I have had many people tell me, “You don’t need to do an MBA” — to which I respond “I’m doing this for me. For no one else and with no specific career hurdle in mind.” I want to broaden my perspective, learn what I don’t know, and leverage some ideas and skills from other industries into my understanding of healthcare informatics and technology. It’s been an amazing month so far — and I am really excited about the next 2 years of growth.

Mara L. Schenker, MD, FACS, is Chief of Orthopaedics and Medical Director of Surgical Informatics for Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and an Associate Professor of Orthopaedics and Director of Orthopaedic Trauma at Emory University School of Medicine.

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