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A Little Background

As I begin my journey with you via "Straight Talk from the ER", I thought it appropriate to tell you a little about my background so you'll know a bit about the experiences from whence I'll be speaking. I was raised on the east coast, educated in the public school system, and went to college at Virginia Military Institute, receiving the Hughes Trophy in 1979 as the top Army ROTC graduate in the nation. I then went to medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, graduating in 1983. I discovered early on in medical school that I had a passion for Emergency Medicine. So, during my cherished free time from school, I volunteered as an advanced Emergency Medical Technician for a local rescue squad. My wonderful wife who worked hard to support us during med school also got excited about emergency care. She got her EMT certification and we teamed up on the ambulance -- with her driving and me in the back working on patients. That made for some interesting tales around the dinner table!

After med school, I did my residency in Emergency Medicine at Akron City Hospital in Ohio. That afforded me a great opportunity to learn about adult and pediatric Emergency Medicine. I trained not only at Akron City Hospital, but also at St. Thomas Hospital and at Akron Children's Hospital, and I got to spend 2 months working at the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems -- better known as "Baltimore Shock Trauma". After completing my residency, I went into the Army and served for 4 years at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Both of my children (a daughter and a son) were born in San Antonio, and I will always be jealous of their status as native Texans!

While at BAMC I got to "cut my teeth" as an attending Emergency Physician seeing lots of traumatized and critically ill patients. BAMC also gave me the opportunity to get back into an interest I had had for a long time but had to put "on hold" during my education years -- snakes. I had a very "tolerant" commanding officer, and he allowed me to collect and keep all sorts of snakes in my office outside of the hospital... an office that soon became fondly known as "the pit" -- the only room on post that the housekeeping staff refused to clean!

After my 4 years at BAMC I made the difficult decision to leave the Army and pursue a career in civilian academic Emergency Medicine. I was hired into a faculty position at Vanderbilt University by my dear friend Dr. Paul Auerbach (author of Medicine for the Outdoors). While at "Vandy," I developed their now-very-successful residency program. After about a year there, however, I was recruited by Dr. Auerbach to move to Stanford University Medical Center. Paul had taken the Chief of Emergency Medicine position at Stanford and he offered me the chance to be his Associate Chief at one of the nation's top medical centers. It was an offer too good to pass up, so I moved my family to the west coast. After a few great years at Stanford, Paul decided to pursue other career opportunities, and I was promoted to Chief of Emergency Medicine at Stanford. I've now been here for 15 years.

During my time at Stanford, I have had the pleasure of leading a phenomenally talented group of physicians and nurses in the Emergency Department. We have a very successful and highly competitive residency training program in Emergency Medicine, and it is my distinct pleasure to participate in the training of future Emergency Physicians. I have been able to pursue my research interests and to develop special expertise in subspecialty areas of Emergency Medicine -- venomous bites and stings (snakes, spiders, scorpions, etc.), wilderness medicine, and tactical medicine.

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, I felt a deep desire to find some way to give back to those who are charged with protecting our freedom. In order to do that, I became involved with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Emergency Response Team as a tactical physician and reserve deputy. In that role, I provide medical support to our team members and civilians involved in law enforcement operations. It has been a very rewarding experience. Wanting to learn more about law enforcement, in 2004, I was given the opportunity by Stanford University to take a 7 month sabbatical to attend the police academy. I graduated in March of 2005 at the top of my class... not bad for a 47 year old man! Attending the police academy was, I guess, my version of a "mid-life crisis." It was either that or buy a fast sports car, and my wife felt that the police academy would be safer!

I have also become very interested in disaster medicine and am now an active member of an Urban Search and Rescue Team, California Task Force 3. My wife has also continued her parallel interests with me and is now an American Red Cross Disaster Response Volunteer (and served faithfully in Baton Rouge, LA after Katrina).

My eclectic background and experiences (Emergency Medicine, teaching, snakebites, wilderness medicine, the military, law enforcement, pre-hospital care, disaster medicine, etc.) have made life interesting to say the least, and, I believe, they put me in an excellent position to author a site that will be interesting and educational. So, to those of you who check in on a regular basis, I look forward to looking into the vast realm of Emergency Medicine together!
Stay alert and stay safe.

- Dr. Bob
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About the Author

The Stanford Emergency Room is the center of emergency care at Stanford University.