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Schneider joins UNC Surgery after completing an intensive care fellowship with the department

Andrew Schneider, MD, joins the Department of Surgery at UNC as an Assistant Professor in the Division of General Surgery, Trauma and Acute Care. He sat down to discuss his childhood dream of becoming a doctor, the impact of COVID-19 on his surgical training, and the advances in medicine he hopes to see over the next decade.


Andrew Schneider, MD, joins the Department of Surgery at UNC as an Assistant Professor in the Division of General Surgery, Trauma and Acute Care. He sat down to discuss his childhood dream of becoming a doctor, the impact of COVID-19 on his surgical training, and the advances in medicine he hopes to see over the next decade.

Dr. Andrew Schneider received his undergraduate cum laude from the University of Florida in 2009 before completing his MD from the University of Miami in 2013. He completed his residency in General Surgery at the University. from Chicago, during which time he also obtained a Masters degree in Biomedical Informatics. After completing his residency, he accepted an intensive care scholarship here at UNC. Dr Schneider has a keen interest and advanced training in EPIC and is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and the Arnold P. Gold Humanism Honor Society.

Why UNC surgery?

I first learned about UNC surgery from Melina Kibbe. Her husband, Dr. Patti, was one of my assistants during my general surgery residency at the University of Chicago. I met her at a dinner party in Chicago, and she mentioned that there was a phenomenal intensive care program at Chapel Hill and suggested that I check it out. When I came here he ticked all the boxes. It is close to the family; it helps an underserved population that is in desperate need of medical care. It has vast resources available for research and patient care.

Why academic medicine?

I have wanted to pursue studies since the beginning of my career when I graduated from medicine. I realized that in order to stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, I had to follow the career path of academic medicine. I enjoy teaching residents and medical students and look forward to conducting research that will advance medicine.

Why become an assistant professor here at UNC Surgery compared to another institution?

A few factors attracted me to my position at UNC, but one of the main ones is the mentoring program in that department. As a new faculty member, I receive valuable mentors who are good partners in my future practice. Having mentors allows me to take risks knowing I have the support if I need advice along the way. This was essential in my job search. When I met Dr. Charles, Head of the Division of General Surgery, Trauma and Acute Care, and Dr. Kibbe, the Past President, I realized that UNC is unique in its mentorship.

What prompted you to become a doctor and surgeon?

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a doctor. I’ve known pretty much since the age of three. I’m not sure what drove me down this path, but I’ve always been obsessed with medicine and was one of the few kids who liked going to their pediatrician.

Throughout my undergraduate and medical training, I wanted to become an internist and eventually pursue cardiology studies. However, my first night of surgical internship in my third year of medical school changed all that. It was nine in the evening and we were doing a vascular anastomosis on a dialysis patient. The attending surgeon gave me the needle pusher and told me to “start sewing”. I was hooked from that point on and never looked back.

How did you decide to continue with general, trauma and acute care surgery?

I think that, as a whole, medicine is moving towards sub-specializations. All the specialties tend to be very isolated in terms of the actual ailments that you end up dealing with. General surgery is one of the few areas where you can be a “jack of all trades” and have a variety of disease processes that you are dealing with. I appreciate the diversity of the procedures.

What advances in medicine would you like to see in your specialty or in general over the next five years?

I want to see surgery integrate technology into our field to bring us into the 21st century. We constantly fall back on the founders of surgery who told us, ‘this is a way we have to do things’, rather than using all the resources, technology (including artificial intelligence and technology). deep learning) for the benefit of our patients. Realizing that each patient is unique and that their treatment should not be a cookbook but rather personalized is key.

The perfect example is a patient who arrives in the emergency room seriously ill, suffering from sepsis due to a urinary tract infection. We know, historically, that certain drugs end up helping these patients. That certain drugs increase their blood pressure and specific antibiotics that work better for these patients. However, what we don’t know is the phenotype of an individual patient. This means that depending on their genetic code, is it possible that they react differently to different drugs than to others?

Instead, I would like to see this shift towards more personalized care. When someone presents to the emergency room, we synthesize this genetic information and use it to guide us to the exact medications to best treat that patient. Rather than just giving them the usual cocktail of drugs, we provide them with what will work for their bio-individuality. We would also reduce the time they spend in the hospital, by getting them home faster.

What are some of the goals you would like to achieve during your stay in UNC surgery?

I think the principle of my career is going to be teaching. I want to continue to have excellent academic responsibility towards medical students, residents and my co-partners in this institution. I want to stay very active from a research point of view. It means applying for grants, trying to get NIH funding and outside funding to achieve my research goals. Then continue to stay extremely busy clinically. The people of North Carolina are in desperate need of excellent medical care. My goal is to help provide them with that.

If you could choose the brain of someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Today I should say, Albert Einstein. He had one of the most unique minds in our entire existence. The way he conceptualizes ideas and finds solutions to important problems is fascinating. Being able to sit down and try to understand his thought process would be very instructive.

What motivates you to get up in the morning?

My family is above all what motivates me on a daily basis. I am first and foremost a father, and work comes second. My wife and daughter are my biggest supporters. Another thing that gets me out of bed is knowing that I can help people every day.

What is one thing you would like your patients or colleagues to know about you before they meet?

I want people to know that I tend to listen more than talk. I think you can learn a lot about patients, not necessarily by asking questions, but by listening to their stories.

Can you give me an example of when you had to overcome an obstacle on your way to becoming a surgeon?

COVID-19 has been the biggest hurdle I have had to overcome so far. Although I was not sick with the disease, it had a profound impact on my training. During the last six months of my residency, we did not perform any elective general surgery. Our hospital had closed and we learned to reassess our needs. This readjusted our training to become surgeons. I realized very quickly that intensive care was in my future because of this. The pandemic has helped me redefine my post-workout goals.

If you could give your young self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Do not rush. We are very quick in our youth to try to rush to get to our final destination. However, as cliché as it sounds, this is not necessarily the destination; this is the journey to get there. All the mentors I have had over the years and all the experiences, I wish I could continue to cherish them and spend more time with these people rather than just moving on to the next point in my life.

What might people be surprised to learn about you?

I play the piano. I have been playing for years and use it as a stress reliever.

What do you do when you are not working?

The things I focus on the most when I’m not here are family time, exploring North Carolina, the outdoors, and the movies. I like to sit on a Friday night with my family and watch a good comedy.

How would you describe yourself in one word?

Determined.

If you could have a super power, which one would it be and why?

I want the superpower of flight. Being able to go from point to point while seeing everyone below you sounds great. I like to fly. I think being on a plane is amazing. The fact that you’re in a metal tube going 600 miles per hour at 30,000 feet in the air is remarkable, but to do it without that metal tube would be pretty amazing.


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