PHYSICIAN SPOTLIGHT: Michael J. Stabile, MD, MBA
Teamwork and a Plan
When Captain Sully Sullenberger successfully landed his crippled jet on the water in the “Miracle on the Hudson” a few years ago, he modestly belied any heroism, saying, “There was nothing hard about the physical navigation of this plane — what worked was teamwork and adherence to protocol.”
It’s a tenet to which Michael Stabile, MD, MBA also subscribes. All of Stabile’s training and experience leads him to believe that teamwork and adherence to established protocols are always the key ingredients for success, and he correlates these principles to operating an anesthesia practice in the increasingly complex world of modern medicine.
Stabile sees the fundamentals of teamwork and closely followed protocols as keystones to the success of Anesthesia Medical Group, founded more than a decade ago. He said, “We work as a team all day. A patient is not ‘your patient’ or ‘my patient’ … it's ‘our patient.’”
While the majority of use of anesthetics in North America is by individual anesthesiologists loosely organized into a group practice, AMG is set up as a team-model practice. “The organization of our group has been structured to share risks, responsibilities and rewards amongst the partners. This philosophy has permeated the clinical setting,” explained Stabile.
He added, “We, at AMG, believe that the team model is a superior patient care model. Why? Because, although things generally go well, when there are problems in the operating room or recovery room, the individual practice model can fail. There is no back up. All the doctors might be in another room. Our systems allow access to unusual resources during crises — from pre-op to when the patient leaves the recovery room.”
He continued, “The challenge for the care team model is communication and working in a team environment with a clear vision of what needs to get done, always factoring in the increasing complexity of anesthesia surgery and patient physiology, which warrants onsite peri-operative physician management.”
A native of New Jersey, Stabile didn’t decide to go to medical school until after his graduation from Rutgers College. “I knew that I liked science, and I thought I might like to do something that involved international travel, perhaps epidemiology,” he recalled, but he was finally drawn to medical school at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of
After graduation, he served as senior registrar, a position similar to chief
resident, in Anesthesia Intensive Care and Pain Management at the Prince Henry and Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. He was an attending at a Boston hospital when he decided on private practice and accepted a position in Nashville.
Once here, Stabile continued his education at the Massey School at Belmont University, where he earned his master’s in 2000, all the while building his anesthesiology practice.
He observed, “It was rare for physicians to attend business school in the 1990s. Despite years of math and science, I had never taken an accounting class or studied macroeconomics. The Massey School placed an emphasis on operations and quality control. It was humbling because the students were very bright, much younger, and
had a totally different set of skills,” he said.
Stabile continued, “I left Massey with the realization that even complex undertakings could be measured and quantified. The other benefit was a deeper appreciation of
how organizations function.”
Putting that knowledge into context, Stabile noted, “We succeed at AMG because we are clinically well organized and have a vision of what needs to be done. We are at the intersection of hands-on medicine and technology.”
He added, “I love what I do … it has led to an unbelievably fascinating and fulfilling
professional life. A lot of times the field of anesthesiology used to attract very technical people. Now it requires a team spirit much like that seen in a sports organizational process.”
He observed, “Healthcare anesthesia is very labor intensive and increasingly complex. Patients are sicker now and have more complicating drug interactions, and the scope of practice is now expanded to include endoscopy and interventional radiology as part of what we cover in our practice. The technology is constantly evolving.”
The rise in America’s obesity rate and the resulting rise in bariatric surgery, for example, present a new set of anesthesia challenges. Stabile said, “The things that anesthesiologists do routinely, such as start intravenous lines, place epidural catheters and intubate patients, become technically more difficult. In addition, many of these patients have obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes and other co-morbidities. It’s challenging, both technically and physiologically, but patients with increasing BMIs will need surgical services, so the challenge will remain.”
He continued, “The technical challenge of obesity also re-enforces the advantages of the anesthesia care team model. These patients will very often need two sets of hands just to facilitate breathing.”
It all comes back to teamwork and having a protocol plan in place for any situation. Stabile doesn’t think patient care can work in any better way.