“It’s now or never.” TMC Emergency doc running for a shot at Olympic gold

Dr. Autumn Ray TMC Emergency Physician

Dr. Autumn Ray
TMC Emergency Physician

After graduating from medical school or completing their residencies, it’s not uncommon for new physicians to treat themselves to that new car they worked so hard for. Or finally take that trip to a destination they haven’t had time to visit. For Dr. Autumn Ray, all she wanted – was a treadmill.

So, she bought it.

It wasn’t so she could be sure to get in a little exercise during her busy days as an emergency physician at TMC. It was so she could continue to train for marathons during the hot summer months in Tucson’s triple-digit heat.

The 34-year-old was a triathlete for many years and transitioned to marathons when she started medical school. “I run marathons because I consider myself slow,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of great underlying speed, but I can go long distances. The longer I go, the better I seem to do.”

And boy has she done well.

The St. Louis Marathon she won in April 2013 marked her fifth marathon win, with a time of 2 hours, 51 minutes. Her best time so far is 2 hours, 49 minutes. Translation: six-and-a-half-minute miles.

But she’s not satisfied with that.

Dr. Autumn Ray

Dr. Autumn Ray

Dr. Ray has her sights set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio. In order to qualify for the Olympic trials, she needs to shave six minutes off her fastest time and finish in 2 hours, 43 minutes. That’s six-minute, 13-second miles. She has three qualifying races to improve her time between now and February 2016, when the trials are held in Los Angeles. “I’m not getting any younger, and I don’t have a lot of shots left,” she said. Dr. Ray runs between 80 and 100 miles a week during marathon training, and often envisions herself at the trials when she’s trying to get through some especially tough workouts.

While the pressure of Olympic training is enormous, running has also provided her with an outlet that she said – without a doubt – helped her survive medical school and residency. She often woke up at 3 a.m. just to have what she calls “her hour of the day.” Her hour where she didn’t have to be on somebody else’s schedule. Her hour to spend doing whatever she wanted. And oftentimes, it was running. Even now, she says running helps her deal with the stress of being an emergency room physician. “I like to go out and turn off the world and push my body,” she said. “I love just exploring on foot for a couple hours.”

Dr. Ray doesn’t consider herself genetically gifted or ultra talented, rather she credits her solid work ethic and ability to make really hard choices for her success. Her family remains her biggest cheerleaders. “When I go visit my family in Florida, my mom gets up with me at 5 a.m. and drives around to make sure I have enough water,” she laughed.

She was self-coached until a year ago when she started training with a running coach and a group of elite runners who are just as dedicated – and just as fast – as she is. They’re also shooting for the Olympic trials. Their physical and emotional journey is detailed at sonorandistanceproject.com.


TMC’s top emergency doc insists award is a team effort

Dr. Rich Rosenthal TMC Emergency Department medical director

Dr. Rich Rosenthal
TMC Emergency Department medical director

TMC’s Emergency Department medical director, Dr. Richard Rosenthal, was honored as Emergency Physician of the Year for 2014 from EmCare, the nation’s leading national practice management company. Dr. Rosenthal was awarded the Commitment to Care Award for emergency medicine, and was selected from more than 10,000 affiliated clinicians. He was selected because he embodies EmCare’s mission of making health care work better.

A press release issued by EmCare said Dr. Rosenthal received the award because of his commitment and implementation to lean methodologies, which helped guide TMC’s emergency and pediatric emergency departments to improved and sustained quality metrics.

“Awards are nice, and certainly appreciated,” said Dr. Rosenthal. “But it is our team here – the nurse managers, the pediatric emergency medical director, and a fantastic, dedicated administration that allows us to work together to improve the processes and improve the care we deliver.”

Dr. Rosenthal said his team continually works on improving the patient experience by decreasing wait times and the total amount of time a patient spends in TMC’s Emergency Department.

Some highlights of TMC’s Emergency Department improvements include:

▪ The wait time to see a physician decreased 48 percent down to an average of 37 minutes, according to data from July 2012 to December 2013.

▪ Patient satisfaction scores increased by more than 43 percent from July 2012 to March 2014.

▪ During the same time frame, more TMC Emergency Department patients reported they felt their physician cared about them as a person. TMC was ranked in the 99th percentile for this patient satisfaction question.

In TMC’s Pediatric Emergency Department:

▪ Patients are triaged an average of 13 minutes after they arrive.

▪ On average, children are consistently treated and released in less than two hours.

▪ Patient satisfaction scores have consistently run in the 80th to 90th percentile.

“While some major changes have been made in TMC’s Emergency and Pediatric Emergency departments, which have led to successful outcomes, we will continue to work on improving our service and increasing patient satisfaction,” Dr. Rosenthal said.

That dedication and commitment to improving care for the community is one of the reasons Dr. Rosenthal was selected as EmCare’s Emergency Physician of the Year.

“So many of our physician leaders do so much more than their physician job duties or their leadership job duties require. They help their communities; they help people outside of their communities. They offer outstanding patient care while improving operations for their organizations. We feel an obligation to recognize these outstanding clinicians in a grand way, in front of all of their peers,” said Dr. Dighton Packard, EmCare’s chief medical officer.

“We established an awards program to honor these physicians who really go above and beyond their job duties every day, while inspiring others to do the same,” said Todd Zimmerman, EmCare president and CEO.

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