A L U M N I P R O F I L E s Richard Szumel, MD ’89, and Sophia (Sonia) Kotliar, MD ’89: A Shared Interest in Pathology Leads to Divergent Careers R R ichard Szumel, MD ’89, started his medical edu- cation at Rutgers Medical School, in the Class of 1988. After the “tough grind” of the first year, he says, he took a break to do something completely different. As a project manager Richard Szumel, MD ’89, Selected to Lead Union Hospital O for the Van Heusen shirt company, he oversaw the opening of retail outlets from the East Coast to Chicago, transforming each site from an empty shell to a customer-ready store. In the process, he acquired business, leadership, and management skills. But more important, the year off meant that he returned as a member of the Class of 1989, in which his classmates included Sophia Kotliar, MD ’89, known as Sonia. ichard and Sonia became good friends, began dating the following year, and married in May 1989, three days before graduation. Both had chosen to specialize in pathology, and they continued their education together, first in residencies at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, in Chicago, and then in fellowship training at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. A shared wish to be near their families in New Jersey brought them back east, following similar, then distinct, professional paths. Today they work in separate community hospitals, an hour apart, pursuing further challenges in their careers. B Y K A T E O ’ N E I L L n January 1, Dr. Szumel started his new position as CEO and president of Union Hospital, in Elkton, Maryland, his professional home for the past 18 years. “Home” is a word that Dr. Szumel uses often when describing Union Hospital. Inpatients, he says, feel “at home” at Union: they are likely to know the physicians, nurses, and staff members, some of whom have served there for many years and are their neighbors in surrounding Cecil County. The mission and work of the community hospital—small, independent, and nonprofit—suit him perfectly, adds Dr. Szumel: “I wouldn’t want to work anyplace else.” Matriculating at Rutgers Medical School in 1984 was a true homecoming for Dr. Szumel, who grew up in Piscataway. A graduate of Muhlenberg College, he enjoyed the medical school’s small classes and the opportunity to know the faculty. His adviser was Robert L. Trelstad, MD, who would later serve as professor and 44 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE