A Brief Conversation with…Dr. Carlee Clark: Advice for Early Career Intensivists

Carlee ClarkDr. Carlee Clark is an Associate Professor in the department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina where she is Chief of the Anesthesia Integrated Clinical Center of Excellence and Vice Chair of Clinical Operations. She is currently serving on SOCCA’s Board.

Where are you from? Where did you train?
I grew up in rural West Virginia. I went to Miami University in Oxford for undergrad and got a BA in psychology. (I use it every day!) The Ohio State for medical school. Columbia University for anesthesia residency and critical care fellowship.

What is your favorite part about being an intensivist?
I love so many things about it. I love working through a problem to make the patient better. I love working with the ICU team to take care of patients. It’s such a fun place to be part of a multidisciplinary team. And I enjoy the patients and their families.

Tell me about your early career. What were your focuses when you were just starting out?
During my early career, I just tried to remain open to different opportunities to try and figure out where I wanted my career to go.  In the first 1-3 years, I focused on resident education and clinical care.  I took over curriculums and worked on clinical pathways and ERAS protocols.

What were the most pivotal points or biggest accomplishments in your early career?
My earliest pivot point was when I was asked to apply for the medical director position of one of our ORs. I had thought I was too young/too new to apply, but I was wrong. I was chosen for the position and it has steered me into a leadership pathway I hadn't foreseen.

When did you first get involved with SOCCA? What are some of your contributions to SOCCA that you’re most proud of?
I joined SOCCA as a fellow in 2008 and quickly became involved after becoming a faculty member in 2009. I have always been a member of the membership committee. I was part of the triad of planning the annual SOCCA meeting for three years, which included the time frame when we transitioned away from ASA to IARS and had to plan two meetings in 10 months!! I am proud to have remained an active member for 14 years, to have seen it grow into what it is now, and to have become a board member.

What advice do you have for intensivists who are early in their career?
Learn about your department and your institution. Very few of you will know exactly what you want to do, and there are so many different career paths that an intensivist can take. By asking questions, volunteering to be on committees and maybe stretching yourself a little, you may open doors that you didn't know were there.

What is it like being on the SOCCA Board of Directors?  What has been your favorite part?
My favorite part has been that, during the time I've been on the Board, SOCCA has grown and developed in so many new directions with so much more content and opportunities for its members.

Author

Lauren Sutherland, MD
Cardiothoracic Anesthesiologist and Intensivist
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
New York, New York