Get to Know Andrew Muck, MD — Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine

February 15, 2024 by

Andrew Muck UVA and his son Hayes

Andrew Muck, MD, with his son, Hayes. (contributed photo)

Andrew E. Muck, MD, MBA, was appointed chair of the UVA Department of Emergency Medicine, effective September 15, 2023. Dr. Muck came to UVA from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he served as a professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, and faculty in Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. Dr. Muck is an experienced leader in emergency medicine with a track record of fostering exceptional patient care, educating the next generation, and contributing to the advancement of his specialty. He served in the United States Air Force with deployments in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a Critical Care Air Transport Physician in Operation Enduring Freedom.

We recently sat down with Dr. Muck to learn more about his career, his inspiration for becoming a physician, advice he’d give his younger self, and more.

Q. Why did you choose the UVA School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine?

A. Whenever I met individuals from UVA over the years, they were always kind people who had a sense of excellence and a high level of professionalism. When I visited UVA, I found an institution that was well-aligned with leadership and filled with opportunities for impact.

Q. Why academic medicine?

A. When I consider my “why” or what motivates me, it is exploring and teaching. I embrace thinking about novel concepts and looking at common things in different ways. I believe everyone in the world should have access to timely emergency care and academic medicine provides an avenue to work towards this end.

Q. What inspired you to become a doctor/provider?

A. While in college, I knew I wanted to be either a veterinarian or a physician. I grew up on a dairy farm and found my greatest joy in administering care. I delivered dual-presentation twin calves one day when home from college for the summer. Two days later, the calves were sent to market. I decided that day to be a physician rather than a veterinarian.

Through mentorship from a professor during my undergraduate education at Colgate University, I was mentored in public health and research. I saw the impact physicians had in areas of global health and in the lives of individuals. I had an opportunity to work at the Centers for Disease Control after college and there was no looking back.

Q. Why did you choose your specialty?

A. While I was in my fourth year of medical school at Johns Hopkins, I was walking with my wife and my infant daughter one day and felt troubled that I had to make a choice for a specialty. I truly loved every rotation. I realized that I could continue to be a part of every specialty in the emergency department. I also realized that emergency medicine would fit well with my future work with the military. I also wanted to stand in the gap for patients from every background and perspective, being there any time of night or day for their perceived emergency.

Q. What’s the most exciting thing happening in your field right now?

A. I answer with the biggest opportunity for all areas of medicine — artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a support tool that will transform our practices. If used appropriately, it will improve the care patients receive. I anticipate AI will bring us more time with patients, while allowing AI to do the things we may not enjoy as much, such as charting. It is imperative that we guide the process of AI rather than having it unleashed on us.

Q. What are some goals you would like to achieve during your time at UVA SOM?

A. I would like to contribute to the excellent clinical, research, and teaching missions. Medicine is under rapid change. I would hope to help our team navigate the changing landscape of emergency care.

Q.  What’s your favorite part of your job or what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

A. I have a great team here at UVA. The people I have the opportunity work with makes it a joy to go to work. I am surrounded by innovators and compassionate caregivers, as well as a team that is mission minded.

Q. What is one thing you wish your patients or co-workers knew about you before they met you? Or what is one thing that may surprise people to learn about you?

A. I’m skilled at dad jokes. My dad jokes are different than other dad jokes because mine are funny. I also believe that just because you don’t laugh doesn’t mean I’m not funny, it means you may not have a good sense of humor.

Q.  If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

A. Enjoy the ride. As I look back, I wouldn’t change any decisions. Yet much of the time as I was making those decisions, I was concerned I was making the wrong choice. My experience has been fantastic, and it mattered more my attitude when I approached circumstance rather than the actual circumstance.

Q.  How do you spend your time away from work? Hobbies?

A. I’m a farmer still at heart. I have a hobby farm and have a great team in my wife, Kelly, and four kids: Anna Beth (20), Will (18), Sadie (14), and Hayes (7). We had horses, donkeys, cows, goats, chickens, and more at our last home and we look forward to the same in Virginia.

Q. How would you describe yourself in one word?

A. Persistent.

Q. Who is your inspiration or hero?

A. I feel like I have many sources of inspiration and enjoy learning from history. Currently, I think about Marcus Aurelius, and the ability to love your fate. You have a choice whether to react to your critics or simply recognize their opinions as something external to you over which you have no control. By remembering these facts, you can feel freedom, decreased anxiety, and enjoy the process.

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