Dr. Ryan Tsuchida on building a brighter future for healthcare through academic medicine

The idea of providing health care to anyone, at any time, inspired Ryan Tsuchida, MD, to become an emergency medicine physician. He loved all aspects of the specialty, from caring for the undifferentiated and critically ill to reassuring other patients at the bedside that they would be alright.

For Dr. Tsuchida, providing the highest quality of care and education goes beyond each patient encounter – it’s pushing forward, always focused on building a collaborative and equitable future.

Since joining the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Tsuchida has implemented several equity, diversity, and inclusion-focused initiatives in the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine, serves the school and hospital on key diversity committees, and is a faculty mentor to underrepresented medical students through the school’s Building Equitable Access to Mentorship (BEAM) program.

Dr. Tsuchida was recently appointed the Assistant Dean for Multicultural Affairs for Health Professions Learners at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health on a permanent basis after serving in an interim capacity since October 2023. In this broad leadership role spanning the school’s five health professions degree programs and accredited residency and fellowship programs administered by UW Health and the school, Dr. Tsuchida aims to build programs that inspire future generations of health professions students of all backgrounds to bring their talents to the UW medical campus and to celebrate and support a diverse student body.

“I am an optimist for a brighter future and believe that academic medicine is on the frontier of excellence in medicine.”

In the Q&A below, Dr. Tsuchida gives insight into his passion for culturally aware mentoring, his pride in being part of the UW–Madison community, and why he believes academic medicine is on the frontier of excellence in healthcare.

Q: Why did you choose Emergency Medicine as your specialty?
A: There is so much to love about Emergency Medicine! The mission of providing care to anyone, at any time is inspiring. I found that I loved all aspects of the specialty ranging from caring for the undifferentiated and critically ill to providing reassurance to patients after a thorough evaluation.

Q: What is your proudest moment as an Emergency Medicine physician?
A: As challenging as the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was for everyone, I was so incredibly proud of the ways in which our specialty stepped up to care for patients and support our colleagues and hospital systems.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about working in Emergency Medicine?
A: It’s life advice but applies to Emergency Medicine: The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. In other words, stay humble.

Q: What drew you to the University of Wisconsin and the Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM)?
A: The department has created a passionate community committed to ensuring each person can achieve their aspirational goals. There is a commitment and impressive track record of DEM fostering leadership opportunities for junior faculty. I have been here for nearly three years; the people I meet and the connections I make reaffirm that there is so much UW and DEM have to offer. As an example, I have taken to heart that the Wisconsin Idea is so much more than just an idea — it is a shared vision and passion that people at UW have to ensure a more equitable future.

Q: How does practicing in academic medicine shape the focus of your work?
A: To me, academic medicine is how we evaluate our systems and demonstrate empirically a pathway to promoting a better future. I am an optimist for a brighter future and believe that academic medicine is on the frontier of excellence in medicine.

Q: You chair the department’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee. What has the committee accomplished during your tenure that you are proud of?
A: I am so proud of ALL that we have done! When I see the work we do not just improve the committee but the patients we serve and the department more broadly, I know we have made a true impact. An example of this broader impact is the positive feedback we have widely received for inviting community partners and patient panels come speak at our residency conference. Our work is centered on cultural humility, and we must allow ourselves to hear the experiences of others to facilitate our own self-reflection and lifelong learning.

Q: Mentoring is important to you, especially as a BEAM faculty mentor. Why is it important for faculty to be open to mentoring? How does it fulfill you and support your own work?
A: Simply put, none of us got here alone. I am so incredibly thankful to the mentors that have supported me and who continue to support me in my journey, and I am very much aware of how much having good mentors makes a difference. For the Building Equitable Access to Mentorship (BEAM) program, we know that students who are underrepresented in medicine face disproportionate and unique challenges navigating medical school and the “hidden curriculum.” Because the faculty mentors for BEAM receive evidence-based training in culturally responsive mentorship, we find that both the faculty mentors and student gain a lot out of the experience. It really is a “win-win” experience that has created an engaged and passionate community here at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

Q: Do you have any advice for students on how to identify and work with a mentor?
A: Know your goals and have more than one. Mentors are often happy to provide advice and guidance, but it’s up to the mentee to decide what they need out of a mentor.

In that vein, have more than one mentor. It’s likely that a mentor will have very relevant experiences within one dimension of your life that is important to you (e.g., choosing a medical specialty) but not as much within another dimension (e.g., family planning). Learning from different leaders is what makes us well-rounded as clinicians and educators, as well as individuals and lifelong learners.

Q: What are some of your priorities as Assistant Dean?
A: I look forward to engaging with students across health professions programs within the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and to expand the reach and impact of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. I plan to collaborate closely with other offices and programs within and beyond academic affairs to create an inclusive, supportive environment that fosters a sense of belonging and that promotes the success and well-being of learners from diverse backgrounds.