If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or seek care at an emergency room.
Few environments may seem more different than a hectic emergency room and a quiet mountain trail. But Matthew Wilson, MD, feels right at home in both. As vice chair of Emergency Medicine at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Wilson has a leading role in evaluating ways to improve the safety, efficiency and quality of Emergency Department procedures. He also serves as course director for Wilderness Medicine at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, teaching students how to apply their medical knowledge when treating sick or injured patients in remote settings.
As medical director for the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, Dr. Wilson coordinates teams that provide care during major events, such as the Independence Day celebration on the National Mall.
Love of the Outdoors and Emergency Medicine
Not surprisingly, it was an affinity for the outdoors that led Dr. Wilson to a career in medicine. While attending Davidson College in North Carolina, he trained as a firefighter and emergency medical technician in order to be part of forest fires response teams. “I found that I preferred the EMT side, because it’s constantly changing,” he explains. While at University of Virginia’s medical school, however, his choice of a specialty was anything but a given.
"I was tempted by other fields, but I liked the broad nature of emergency medicine,” he says. “Every day brings something different, and you have to be ready to treat it.”
As his wife, Molly, was in law school at George Washington University, Dr. Wilson considered himself fortunate to be matched for his internship and residency at the Hospital Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. In addition to his daily responsibilities, he has authored more than 50 original papers, abstracts, and reviews for professional journals. He also has contributed to numerous hospital research projects, in areas such as developing protocols for tele-triage, which allows physicians and nurses to diagnose and determine the urgency of cases remotely, and using medical literature to guide the course of treatment, based on a patient’s risk factors.
Curbing the Opioid Epidemic
Countering the spread of opioid use is also a focus for the Hospital Center’s Emergency Department.
“This is something that MedStar has been on top of since I came here,” Dr. Wilson explains. “Prescribing medications can be a tough target to hit, but we continually strive to avert any potential for over-dependency and abuse.”
Outside of Work
Not surprisingly, Dr. Wilson’s outside interests are often outside with his wife and three children—ages 12, 6 and 3. In addition to hiking and rock climbing locally, the family enjoys taking the outdoor wanderlust on the road, with the most recent trip to the famed Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.