Leadership transition in emergency medicine

After 12 years of service, Dr. John Ma will step down as chair July 8; Dr. Mary Tanski will serve as interim chair

John Ma, M.D., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, announced May 13 that he will step down from his leadership role on July 8 after 12.5 years of leading the department across missions, including greatly expanding patient access to board-certified, residency-trained emergency physicians in the Portland metro area and Astoria.

OHSU School of Medicine Dean Sharon Anderson has selected Mary Tanski, M.D., M.B.A., executive vice chair of emergency medicine and clinical operations director, to serve as interim chair. Dr. Tanski is an associate professor of emergency medicine, OHSU School of Medicine.

Mary Tanski, M.D., M.B.A., will serve as interim chair.

Under Dr. Ma’s leadership, OHSU faculty are now staffing the emergency rooms in Astoria, Hillsboro, and, in July, Adventist in East Portland, in addition to OHSU and Doernbecher Children’s hospitals. The Emergency Department volume will have increased from 37,000 patients in 2007 to more than 150,000 cumulatively in July. Dr. Ma also oversaw the initiation and staffing of OHSU’s Virtual Visits (telehealth) program, additionally improving access for patients.

“It is with great pride in our accomplishments together that I announce that I will step down as chair of the OHSU Department of Emergency Medicine on July 8,” Dr. Ma wrote to his department in a message today. “I am grateful to all of you for the sustained diligence, productivity, and commitment that you have brought to our patients, students, and trainees. Our department’s growth has been inspiring.”

Under Dr. Ma’s leadership, the Department of Emergency Medicine has:

  • More than tripled the number of faculty and staff clinicians to 116 across all ranks and locations (including Adventist) and tripled the operating budget to $35 million in 2019.
  • Consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation in NIH funding among academic emergency medicine departments, according to the Blue Ridge rankings, with a #2 ranking in 2017.
  • Successfully educated and mentored dozens of OHSU medical students, with 14 percent of each graduating class in the past 10 years, on average, matching in emergency medicine.
  • Founded IDEA-EM (Innovative, Disruptive, Emerging Applications in Emergency Medicine) to quickly bring important new practices to serve patients.
  • Created and fully funded two $1 million endowed professorships to honor two former department chairs and provide a future revenue stream.
  • Made important progress in diversifying the faculty from only a few women faculty members in 2007 to 55 women across faculty ranks and staff clinicians. Nine women, including Dr. Tanski, hold top leadership positions.
John Ma, M.D.

“John Ma distinguished himself in expanding access to top-tier emergency medical care so that thousands more patients from the north coast to the metro area can get the care they need when they most need it,” Dean Anderson said. “He has been an innovative, results-oriented leader who has achieved success across missions. I want to thank Dr. Ma for his service and his dedication to teaching, healing and discovery at OHSU and also acknowledge Dr. Tanski, who has been a key player in emergency medicine’s expansion and will ensure a seamless transition.”

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