Drew Cathers named 2023 Medical Director of the Year by Air Medical Physician Association, receives international honor

Dr. Cathers has served as the medical director for UW Health Med Flight since 2021. Photo by Pete Rankin.

Andrew Cathers, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine, has been recognized among international air and ground critical care transport medicine programs for his dedication, innovation, and leadership of UW Health Med Flight.

The Air Medical Physician Association (AMPA) — the largest professional organization in the world of physicians dedicated to air and critical care ground transport — named Cathers as the 2023 Medical Director of the Year at its recent Air Medical Physician Symposium (AMPS) this January.

In remarks made at the symposium, AMPA President Doug Swanson, MD, described Dr. Cathers’s leadership at UW Health Med Flight as “transformative,” and emphasized Cathers’s “outstanding contributions to the development of the flight program and its members.”

A native of Rhode Island, Cathers attended medical school at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School emergency medicine residency program. He completed a fellowship in flight medicine with UW Health Med Flight at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, where he has served as Medical Director since October 2021.

“I am humbled and grateful to receive this award,” said Cathers. “More than anything, I think it speaks to the accomplishments of the [UW Health Med Flight] program and all of our team members. We are excited to continue serving our patients and community and working to advance our field.”

Med Flight has served the upper Midwest for nearly 40 years and logs more than 2,300 transports per year. It has long been recognized in air medical circles as providing one of the safest air medical transport services in the United States. As Medical Director, Cathers works closely with a highly trained team of emergency medicine physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and specialty providers with critical care training to direct adult and pediatric critical care transport by ground and air at three regional bases operating three EC-145 aircraft and two critical care ambulances 24/7/365.

During his tenure, Med Flight has experienced marked growth in air and ground transport volumes, introduced ECMO and Organ and Tissue Donation programs, and recently incorporated whole blood on every transport.

Dr. Cathers’s dedication to physician and nursing education has been a significant nidus for the program’s collaborative success. He has been deeply engaged with the development of a more robust aeromedical transport fellowship program, the implementation of a multidisciplinary simulation-based education curriculum for flight crews, and became an examiner for the Royal College of Surgeons Diploma in Retrieval and Transport Medicine, as well as a faculty member of the international Anesthesia Trauma and Critical Care (ATACC) course, to bring Med Flight’s excellence in education and training to prehospital health care providers abroad.

Dr. Cathers, who is dual boarded in Emergency Medicine and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), has also demonstrated an equally impressive dedication to quality of care, prioritizing the development and implementation of a quality assurance and process improvement program that is on par with the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine’s process for physician review.

“Above all else, Dr. Cathers is passionate about ensuring the wellness and health of his crews. “[Cathers] is the embodiment of a selfless leader,” said Dr. Swanson. “He puts the needs and wants of those he leads above his own desires. We are fortunate to have his leadership.”

About the Air Medical Physician Association

The Air Medical Physician Association is an international organization committed to patient-focused, quality critical care transport medicine by promoting excellence in medical direction, research, education, safety, leadership and collaboration. With over 400 members nationally and internationally AMPA represents extensive expertise in the field of medical transport. Its members represent many medical specialties including Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and various Surgical subspecialties.

Learn more at ampa.org