It’s not uncommon for University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center (UM BWMC) physician Dr. Jonathan Wendell to respond to high-level calls from his Severna Park home, offering his assistance when it can make the difference for a patient in urgent need of care.
That dedication is just one reason why Wendell was honored by the Maryland Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (MD ACEP) as its EMS Physician of the Year at its annual meeting on April 21 at the BWI Airport Marriott in Linthicum.
Wendell is an emergency room physician at UM BWMC, where he will celebrate his 10-year work anniversary in August, and he also serves as the medical director of emergency medical services (EMS) for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
There is not one event that inspired him to become a physician, but he is glad he pursued that path, starting with medical school in Arizona.
“While in med school, I explored a lot of areas including surgery and pediatrics and OB-GYN,” he said, “and then it turned out with emergency medicine, I get to do all of those things.”
While working in his trauma surgery rotation in medical school, he developed an appreciation for fixing people during their sickest moments.
“Unfortunately, you don’t always get to see the improvement right away,” he said. “You can do your best to save the person and the improvement comes days, weeks, months later. But seeing the beginning aspects of it — making the diagnosis, stabilizing people and getting them to my colleagues who are experts in continued care — it’s a fun experience seeing things at the front end.”
Wendell completed a residency at the University of Maryland School of Emergency Medicine, and at Duke University in North Carolina, he was selected for the university’s EMS of Pre-Hospital and Global Disaster Medicine Fellowship. The fellowship at Duke trained him to be a medical director, so when he moved to Maryland in 2012, it was a natural partnership to serve the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
“I’m very fortunate. I get to work with clinicians on all levels,” Wendell said. “It is amazing to me to get to work with EMS clinicians at the beginning of their career when they are paramedic students at the college and onto when they’re becoming a paramedic through the fire department to becoming supervisors and even beyond that. I love teaching at all levels.
“EMS was recognized as a subspeciality of emergency medicine a number of years back, and when it became a subspecialty of emergency medicine, it’s basically recognizing EMS is hospital medicine, just outside of a hospital,” he said. “It is the provision of emergency medical care and a more difficult environment. Bringing a higher level of emergency care that I learn, practice, bringing that out into the community and the citizens of Anne Arundel County, is a great experience and watching the clinicians put it all together and really advance their ability to care for the citizens is just so fun to watch and be a part of. When my clinicians bring in a case and I hit all the points and make a difficult diagnosis in the field, it’s great to see.”
Pre-hospital, he enjoys teaching paramedics and BWMC staff.
“I just did some sessions teaching EKGs to nurses, and one of my favorite places to teach is clinical, so any time that something comes up in the clinical environment when I’m working in the emergency department teaching the students there, teaching the nurses there, teaching the paramedics as they come in,” he said. “Let them put together how the patient was in the field and how they end up in the hospital and their treatment course and how diseases progress and things to look for. It’s all about advancing pre-hospital care by pushing the hospital level of medicine.”
Wendell said he is also fortunate that the fire department brings a large portion of its EMS patients to him at UM BWMC so he can see his clinicians in action.
“At least two of my paramedics are physicians’ assistants now at BWMC,” he said. “I have previous paramedic students who are nurses and have gone into critical care transport. So it’s really cool to watch them grow and advance their careers.”
It’s also cool, he said, that his family lives in Severna Park and he has three young boys ages 4, 6 and 8.
“I assistant coach for my son’s Green Hornets 8-year-old Nationals team — go Nats — so it’s fun being in the community,” he said. “Working and living in the community is fun because I get to be involved in more. It's easy to have all work and no play, but my family keeps me grounded.”
It’s also nice to be recognized, even though he never sought attention.
“It's humbling,” he said when asked about the EMS Physician of the Year award. “I didn’t go into this for awards, and this was my emergency medicine colleagues in Maryland recognizing my contributions to pre-hospital medicine and, in turn, to emergency medicine. I am very happy to get it and am very proud to work with the people I have the privilege of working with, both pre-hospital and hospital.”
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