Dr. Manish N. Shah, a nationally recognized research leader and pioneer in the field of geriatric emergency medicine, begins his tenure today as Chair of the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
Stepping into this leadership role after being recruited to the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2015 as its first Vice Chair of Research, Dr. Shah recognizes that his tenure comes at a time when emergency care is evolving rapidly. New technologies and models of care are being implemented to better care for patients, and emergency department visits are becoming a closely monitored signal of emerging public health issues.
“This is a pivotal time in emergency medicine, with new ways to provide our community with more efficient and effective emergency care. Leveraging the strengths of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health, we are able to perform exciting research, teach the next generation of health care providers, and deliver cutting-edge care to Wisconsin,” says Shah.
In the Q&A below, we asked Dr. Shah to share a few insights into his leadership and vision for the department:
Q: What excites you most when you think about the future of the department?
Shah: Everything about the future of this department excites me. It’s why I came here seven years ago, and nothing has changed about that. We have some of the brightest and most passionate, dedicated and committed faculty, staff and trainees in our field. We have a thriving culture of excellence and a focus on the common good. We have strong connections to UW-Madison and UW Health, two exceptional organizations with deep resources. We have had tremendous success in all of our core missions. And because we have the right people, at the right place, and at the right time, we will advance our research, education, and clinical care to better our field and our community.
Q: How does the Wisconsin Idea inform your vision and work as Chair?
Shah: Any organization must have a very clear mission and vision. We are fortunate at UW to have the Wisconsin Idea—the philosophy that UW–Madison discoveries should benefit the citizens of Wisconsin and beyond. It is a concept that I very much believe in. Whether it is our clinical, educational, research, or service missions, we are here to support our patients and our communities, throughout the state and beyond. This concept will serve me as it has served UW—as the North Star. Activities consistent with the Wisconsin Idea are ones that have inherent value and ones we must seriously consider engaging in.
Q: What are three words you would use to describe your leadership style?
Shah: I see myself consistently as a servant leader (if I have to choose one style). However, I also see myself as able to change between most of Goleman’s six styles of leadership, depending on the situation (visionary, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, coaching).
Shah has been a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine since 2015. The department, which was established in 2014, has significantly expanded its clinical services and research portfolio over the course of Shah’s leadership, and initiated a renowned emergency medicine residency program. One area of his work focuses on improving emergency care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The school was one of four sites awarded a total of $7.5 million in 2020 from the National Institutes of Health for the project, which is co-led by Shah.
That project aims to leverage expertise in emergency medicine, geriatrics, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to identify gaps in emergency care for people with dementia. The Geriatric Emergency Care Research Network 2.0–Advancing Dementia Care (GEAR 2.0—ADC) research collaboration recently published a collection of research papers and an accompanying editorial laying out what areas of research need to be undertaken to provide the best care for people living with dementia when they arrive at the emergency department.
Shah earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, a medical degree from the University of Rochester, and completed a residency in emergency medicine at The Ohio State University. Shah also earned a master of public health in clinical investigation from the University of Rochester, where he was on faculty prior to joining UW–Madison. Shah is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians and American Geriatrics Society and has received three premiere awards from the Academy of Geriatric Emergency Medicine, part of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM): the Gerson-Sanders Award, the Academic Career Achievement Award, and the Pioneer Award.
“Shah is a collaborative leader, educator, and researcher with a deep commitment to the Wisconsin Idea,” said Dr. Robert N. Golden, dean, UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “Dr. Shah’s dedication to both the practice and improvement of emergency care through clinical work, education, and research is a great asset to our school. His accomplishments to date indicate that this important department will continue to thrive under his leadership.”