Physician Educator Spotlight: Susan Martinelli, MD, FASA


Susan Martinelli, MD, FASA

Title and Faculty Appointment:

Professor of Anesthesiology 
Residency Program Director
Co-Chair of UNC Chapter of Women in Anesthesia
Chair of Wellness Committee
Department of Anesthesiology
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC

Undergraduate & Graduate Medical Education:

UG—University of Wisconsin
MS – University of Wisconsin School of Medicine
Residency—University of North Carolina Hospitals
Fellowship—Duke University Medical Center (Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology)

Brief Educational Biosketch:

My academic career is centered on being a clinician-educator, with a focus on research in education. I earned an Education Research Methodology Certificate through the University of Illinois and the AAMC Medical Education Research Certificate to establish the groundwork for my research. I completed the Center for Medical Simulation’s Comprehensive Instructor Workshop in order to utilize simulation in my research. One of my research interests is in innovative approaches to graduate medical education, such as the flipped classroom. Additionally, I have developed programs that utilize family and friends to improve the well-being of healthcare providers, including medical students, residents, and attending physicians. I received grant support from the AAMC, AMA, and the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research for these efforts. I really enjoy collaborating with other institutions in this work.

I have been a key part of our residency program leadership for 12 years. In this role, I have been managing the didactic curriculum for our residents and have been instrumental in the development of new curriculum such as the intern Academic Medicine Rotation and the Basic and Advanced Board Preparatory Sessions. I helped to develop our Departmental Wellness Committee in June of 2015 and have been Chair of the Departmental Wellness Committee since its inception. 

Society/Committee Memberships:
  • Associate Editor—Journal of Education in Perioperative Medicine

  • Committee on Educational Meetings—Society of Education in Anesthesia

  • Committee on Physician Well-Being—American Society of Anesthesiologists

  • Educational Advisory Board—Association of University Anesthesiologists

  • Committee on Residency Curriculum—Society of Education in Anesthesia

  • Academy of Educators Leadership Council—University of North Carolina School of Medicine

What drew you to a career in anesthesiology education?

When interviewing medical students for residency, I am so impressed with those who already know they have an interest in education. It wasn’t until I was a senior resident (and when I truly felt I was developing the knowledge and skill set to have something to teach!) that I began to recognize my love for education. As the chief resident for education, I had the opportunity to help develop some of our resident rotations. As a new faculty member, David Mayer—my program director—mentored me into the role of assistant program director where my passion for resident education really took off. 

What are a few facts about you people may not know?

I love to exercise, as I find it to be a huge stress reliever for me. Pre-COVID, I was a full believer in Orange Theory Fitness, but the pandemic converted me to the Peloton. I also love to read and have a huge stack of books next to my bed that I am looking forward to reading when I can make the time. 

What is your advice to an aspiring, young anesthesiologist educator?

I think it is really important to do what you love! If your love is education, that is fantastic! Look for others whose work you find interesting and reach out to them for mentorship and advice. You will be amazed at how willing people are to help those who are motivated and have shared interests. Also make sure that you turn your educational work into scholarship. This allows you to share your ideas with others and helps in the promotion process.

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