Lessons From the Front and the Emergency Room: Leading Under High Pressure

Lessons from the Front and the Emergency Room Leading Under High Pressure

We were fortunate to have some time to talk with this year's AIHce EXP opening keynote speaker, Dr. Sudip Bose, about his experiences on the front lines serving in Iraq and in the emergency room. His experiences in the U.S. Army as a first responder and later as an emergency physician taught Dr. Bose the value of making quality decisions in a split-second of time. During his keynote address, sponsored by SGS Galson, he'll share some of his stories and the lessons learned that have continued to resonate in his career.

AIHA: You are an inspiring doctor and speaker with a very interesting story. Could you tell us a bit more about your personal and professional background?

Dr Bose: I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In the fifth grade, I moved to the suburbs of Illinois and grew up there. My parents are from Kolkata, India. Pretty early on, I knew I wanted to be a physician. A moment that really solidified this path was when one of my grandparents died of a heart attack in India. The medical care there wasn’t the standard it is now, and the idea of making a better standard of medical care really drove me.

I joined the military when I was 21 years old and became part of the health profession scholarship program. That led to me doing my undergraduate and medical school programs at Northwestern University, and then I completed my residency and specialization in emergency medicine in Fort Hood, Texas.

My professional career stems from serving 12 years as a doctor in the United States Army, which led me to earn the rank of Major. I am currently a practicing emergency physician. Aside from my medical profession, I am also the founder and CEO of several nationally top-ranked medical educational companies, along with being the Cofounder and Chief Medical Officer of liveClinic, the world’s first and fastest-growing platform for storing your personal healthcare records.

Furthermore, I am a professional public speaker, and my earnings in the speaking circuit go to support a nonprofit I founded called “The Battle Continues,” which helps injured veterans.

How did you get involved with the military?

I wouldn’t say I had this clear idea that I wanted to be in the military. However, what I did know was that the specialty of emergency medicine was born out of the military. In other words, the actual concept of emergency room care came from the United States Army. Thus, I knew the military could equip me with everything I needed to know. Lastly, when my parents came to this country, they were able to contribute solely from what they received from other people, so I had this urge to give back, and joining the military was a perfect opportunity for that.

What was the most unexpected but helpful piece of advice you received in the early stages of your career as an ER doctor?

Wash your hands, and when you are done washing them, wash them again!

As an ER doctor, you must make rapid decisions, especially when confronted with a medical emergency or a large number of patients. Has the pandemic changed how you approach both risk management and the decision-making process for such high-impact decisions?

In normal circumstances, when a patient has a sudden cardiac or respiratory issue, ER doctors and nurses will rush into the room and provide immediate medical attention. We simply couldn't do this with COVID-19 patients when the pandemic started.

In the ER, we often talk about System 1 and System 2 thinking. System 1 thinking identifies how a current situation compares to similar situations in the past. We respond according to our experience and intuition. System 1 thinking is fast, accurate, and effective. It serves patients well. In contrast, System 2 thinking is necessary when facing a new situation. It requires intense deliberation of all the facts, creating a hypothesis, and testing the hypothesis.

Suffice it to say, when the pandemic started, we were on System 2 overdrive.


What is the most challenging aspect of working as an Emergency Medicine doctor, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?


Given the high rate of infection, we must pay extremely close attention to our personal protective equipment (PPE) and restrict patient contact – much more so than normal. In a very busy (even chaotic) ER with patients struggling to breathe or experiencing sudden cardiac arrest, adhering to these practices can be difficult.

We’re trying to save the lives of our patients while, at the same time, making sure we don’t become infected ourselves. It’s a mindset and awareness that’s new for all of us – but absolutely essential to maintain if we’re to continue to treat patients successfully.

What are some essential leadership skills that you’ve learned while working on the frontline of COVID-19?

There are two components to accomplishing an objective. First is taking the necessary tactical steps. The second is the "human factor." Human emotions can derail or augment a mission. Often the human factor is far more important. COVID-19 has brought out the spectrum of human emotions and certain leadership techniques have been particularly helpful:

  • Pivot to active listening
  • Create a new perspective and rules for the team
  • Build resilience through reinvention
  • Use the crisis to create human bonds
  • Focus on the well-being of the team

AIHA encourages its members to spread the word about the importance of IH/OH through outreach opportunities in their communities. As an experienced public speaker, what are some of your go-to strategies when it comes to giving a presentation as a public speaker?

I would say some of my key strategies are preparation, attention to detail, and telling people meaningful stories that they can relate to and learn from.

You are a successful doctor who also runs a successful business. Do you have any health advice that you would give for businesses too?

Focus on the quantitative above all else. The numbers will never lie to you and will let you know what needs work and what doesn’t.

As a war veteran, working with veterans is a cause that’s close to your heart. What should managers know about hiring and working with veterans?

Veterans, as a group, possess qualities that make them great employees. They are disciplined, hardworking, loyal, courageous, and team-oriented. All these qualities are essential for efficient employees.

Register today and get ready for some intense stories and the leadership lessons forged under fire and pressure. Dr. Sudip Bose’s keynote is Monday, May 24, 2021, from 8:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m., is sponsored by SGS Galson.

AIHce EXP 2021 is sponsored by: