This post is part of a blog series highlighting Northwell Health’s Advanced Clinical Providers (ACP). Each Northwell Health employee was nominated by their manager as an individual that exemplifies a central Northwell Health value. This month, we’re proud to introduce you to Chris Summers, PA, QA, education coordinator and critical care specialist, who is a “Truly Compassionate” member of our team. Here’s why:
At Northwell Health, our Advanced Clinical Providers have the resources and support they need to follow their passions, wherever they lead. Chris Summers’ passion for delivering Truly Compassionate care led him from a career in the Coast Guard to one as a physician assistant in the operating room, the classroom, and into disaster areas throughout the world.
Chris started his career as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard where he was mostly involved in maritime search and rescue as well as counter-narcotic operations in the high seas of the North Atlantic. After the Coast Guard, Chris became a paramedic on the streets of New York City, eventually studying to become a physician assistant (PA). At Northwell Health, he found an environment where veterans were especially valued for their experiences and values. “Northwell Health is very pro-veteran. The health system values their experience and expertise and understands how that can translate into a veteran becoming a superior member of our healthcare team. Northwell has many programs available to assist veterans to integrate into the civilian healthcare sector and there are many veterans who are valued team members in every level of the organization,” says Chris. The healthcare experience Chris has built along his career path across a variety of Truly Compassionate positions led him to Northwell Health.
His journey with Northwell Health began in 2006 when he was hired right out of PA school to the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ). In this position, he was assigned to the CTICU where he cared for critical patients who required cardiothoracic surgery or were recovering from surgery. Chris then transitioned to the operating room, where he learned how to assist in all aspects of cardiac and thoracic surgery as well as advanced bedside procedures. “In the operating room, I am a valued member of the surgical team and directly contribute to the positive outcome of our patients,” says Chris. “It’s very gratifying to be able to apply my knowledge and skills to advance the healing and treatment of our patients and to work within a supportive team environment.”
Chris enjoys that ACPs in the cardiothoracic surgery department can work at the very top of their license and are given a large amount of responsibility. They can be found anywhere from the operating room assisting in the most complex surgeries, to the floors managing the daily needs of recovering patients.
Once he became a critical care specialist, Chris felt the call to share his knowledge with his peers. Northwell recognized Chris’ gift for teaching with a promotion in 2016 to Quality Assurance and Education coordinator, which included coordinating various aspects of staff education such as a lecture series for the Thoracic Surgery service line.
Chris’ Truly Compassionate nature takes his work outside of Northwell and into the world to care for people in the most critical situations. Chris is the co-founder of NYC Medics Global Disaster Response, a team that provides a rapid expeditionary style of emergency care in disaster zones throughout the world. NYC Medics travel into remote regions by whatever means necessary to set up clinics and assist those in need, treating tens of thousands of patients of hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes. “I’ve spent most of my career in some form or another in service to others and have taken care of people in a wide variety of situations. These experiences taught me that whether on a sinking ship at sea, in a disaster zone in some far-off country, on the streets of NYC or in an operating room, we all are equally susceptible to disasters, disease, trauma and the suffering these bring.”
For Chris, Truly Compassionate patient care is always at the forefront of his mind and helps him to be a better PA.