chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. “Dr. Trelstad had a holistic influence on me,” says Dr. Szumel. “I recall sitting in his office in my second year, discussing one of the many books he lent me, not on pathology but on philosophy and the importance of doing what’s truly right for the patient. He taught me that pathology shouldn’t be a career spent secluded in a basement laboratory.” Board-certified in both pathology and cytopathology, Dr. Szumel initial- ly planned a career in academic medicine, and for a year he conducted research at the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Bayview campus. He soon realized, however, that to pursue research would mean always being sandwiched between multiple levels of administration, with minimal patient contact. “I wanted to influence patient’s lives on an individual level,” he says. When he was offered a position as a staff pathologist at Union, he happily accepted it. “I reported to the CEO and was responsible to my colleagues, their patients, and families. I routinely met in person with physicians to discuss my findings and the treatment plan, and I frequently sat down with patients and their families to help explain the diagnosis and answer their questions. That’s when I knew I was having an impact on health care in my community.” Union Hospital physicians may be either full-time employees or members of practices that work as independent contractors. Dr. Szumel, who opened his own pathology practice 16 years ago, has been both. Since then, he has become increasingly involved in administrative roles at the hospital; he served on a number of hospital and board committees and was continually involved in the hospital’s strategic plan development. As president of the medical staff, he served on the hospital’s board of directors and has been involved with Maryland’s all-payer, hospital rate regulation system— unique among the 50 states. Last fall, Dr. Szumel, then the medical director of the hospital laboratories, —Continued on page 46 COURTESY OF RICHARD SZUMEL, MD ’89 Robert Wood Johnson I MEDICINE 45