Faculty Focus - Joshua Stilley

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Meet Dr. Stilley:

What is your home town?

Waukee, Iowa.

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?

July 2013.

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

My father is a physician. Because of this, I have been interested in medicine as long as I can remember.

I also always enjoyed my math and science classes in school, so medicine is a good fit for me.

What interested you to pursue a career in Emergency Medicine?

I started out as an Emergency Medical Technician in 2000. Through this, I was able to experience a wide range of emergencies. I found that I enjoyed seeing the range of medical problems and especially liked the rapid pace of Emergency Medicine.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

Growing up, my father helped to shape my education and early career path.

After I arrived at the University of Iowa for residency, I began a mentoring relationship with Dr Azeemuddin Ahmed, who was the Medical Director of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) programs in the department.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?

I chose the University of Iowa for residency because of the exceptional faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine. I knew that I would be able to thrive in this setting and use it as a foundation for my career.

The University of Iowa’s faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient-care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient-centered care and education?

I spend a large amount of my time with the EMS community of Iowa, not just our AirCare, Mobile Care, and Emergency Medical Services Learning Resources Center (EMSLRC). A lot of this time involves linking up resources inside the University with EMS providers all across the state. There is such a great fund of knowledge and willingness to contribute from our institution. This application of resources definitely improves patient care across the state

What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?

The advantages I have had being at an academic medical center is the backing from my department to pursue activities outside of the normal Emergency Department (ED) shift work. For example, I am the Medical Director for the State of Iowa Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT). This requires committments not only of time for administration and planning, but also to be able to deploy if disasters occur. The academic world allows me the flexibility to deploy if needed.

Please describe your professional interests.

My interest area is definitely EMS. I currently serve as the Medical Director of the University of Iowa AirCare, the University of Iowa EMS Learning Resources Center, the Iowa EMS Association, and the Iowa Disaster Medical Assistance Team. I direct the EMS education activities of our Emergency Medicine Residents. I also have the opportunity to serve on and chair several EMS committees for the state of Iowa. I have been involved in several research projects in EMS as well.

What led to your interest in your field?

My interest in EMS definitely came from my initial exposure to it. I love providing care in the out-of-hospital environment whether it is traditional EMS, disaster response, mass-gathering care, or other areas. I am very glad I have been able to translate my prior experience into my Emergency Medicine career.

How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?

The Comprehensive Academic Medical Center environment is definitely a benefit for my services. The EMS Learning Resources Center pulls students in from all over the country because of the expertise available. There are very few EMS training programs that have cardiologists teach cardiology or anesthesiologists teach airway. That access is fantastic for our students and helps recruit them to us. Without the numerous specialty services available, our AirCare and Mobile Care transport programs would not have a place to bring patients back to.

What are some of your outside interests?

I love to travel with my family. We have been fortunate enough to go on several trips in the U.S. and to Europe within the last few years. I have a pilot’s license and love to fly to various locations within the Midwest as well.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

In the world of emergency medicine, it is easy to pick out the worst of our society and focus on them. I made the decision early on in my career that I would find satisfaction in helping those who needed help. Even if it is only one or two patients in a shift that really needed me, I can be happy that I helped someone.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of medicine/science), what would it be?

I think one of the biggest challenges we are facing as a state and a nation right now is the impact of mental health disorders. I would love to wave a magic wand and have those disappear, but I would be grateful for improved access to care and less ED boarding of patients waiting for a psychiatric bed.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

The use of evidenced-based guidelines in EMS is improving significantly.

One of the biggest changes recently is the decreased use of the Long Spine Board (backboard). The recent literature shows no improvement in outcomes and in fact we may have been harming our patients by using them. The Long Spine Board has been dogma in EMS for the last 40 years, so going against something that is so ingrained into EMS is difficult.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

I have seen very few physicians succeed without being a good team leader. Supporting and leading the nurses, techs, and even other physicians around you can go a long way to improving your career and your career satisfaction.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine/science?

I think one of the biggest changes that will occur is the delivery of care outside of our traditional walls. With the advent and advancement of telemedicine we are able to take care to the rural areas of Iowa with great ease. I only see this as expanding.

There is also a push within EMS called Community Paramedicine. This would see EMS providers doing regular checkups on patients within their homes, above what can be currently done by a visiting nurse. With the ability to provide high quality care in the home, fewer patients would need to present to the Emergency Department.

In what ways are you engaged with the greater Iowa public (i.e., population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagements off campus, etc.)?

My biggest engagement is with our EMS community. Through the Iowa EMS Association I get to interact with providers across the state at our annual conference as well as several smaller conferences. Through the EMS committees under the Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Emergency and Trauma Services I get to write patient care protocols and direct public policy on EMS.