New Chair of Medicine Takes on New Challenges in Familiar Environment

New Chair of Medicine Takes on New Challenges in Familiar Environment

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John H. Sherner, MD, FCCP, didn’t require an extensive orientation when he joined MedStar Washington Hospital Center as chair for the Department of Medicine. Having spent most of his professional career in the Washington, D.C., area, Dr. Sherner has been a regular visitor to the Hospital Center for training, and has partnered with hospital faculty for educational meetings and programs. 

“I’ve always been impressed with the energy and enthusiasm devoted to the mission of serving such a large and diverse patient population,” Dr. Sherner says. “I’m honored to now be a part of it.” 

The Honolulu-born Dr. Sherner spent most of his childhood in Texas. Like many physicians, he chose a career in medicine, as it combined his love of science with the opportunity to work directly with people. Dr. Sherner earned a commission in the Army through ROTC as an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, and then trained at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. His next stop was Walter Reed Army Medical Center, for an internship and residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. 

Aside from a tour of duty in Iraq, Dr. Sherner has stayed close to Washington, with leadership roles at Walter Reed, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital, where he most recently served as Chief of Medicine. He’s been active in the American College of Chest Physicians and served as an executive board member of the Metropolitan D.C. Thoracic Society. 

Dr. Sherner says that while he is still determining which areas he’ll focus on first, he is already well aware of what the Hospital Center’s Department of Medicine is capable of achieving. 

“Obviously, we want to provide the highest quality of care,” he says. “To do that, we need an environment where our providers can do their jobs at the highest level, with systems that ensure their satisfaction and wellness. We also want to continue to grow and strengthen our standing training and research programs. The more we can do for our providers, the more we can do for our patients as well.” 

While the coronavirus pandemic’s influence on the department’s near- and long-term practices has yet to be fully determined, Dr. Sherner has high praise for the Hospital Center’s response to date. 

“The providers and other associates stepped up and worked extra hard, and the level of interdepartmental planning and cooperation was outstanding,” he says. “As we prepare for any future surge, we’re discussing what went well, and where we can improve.” 

Dr. Sherner adds that the Hospital Center’s existing culture of multidisciplinary care provides an excellent foundation for evolving with both shared and discipline-specific changes and needs in the specialty treatment areas. He also hopes to bring a provider’s perspective to those efforts, remaining active as an attending in clinic, on the pulmonary consult service, and in the medical ICU. 

“We certainly want to focus on developing more opportunities for team-oriented multi-disciplinary care, which will benefit our patients and providers,” he says. 

Pursuing these and other objectives for the Hospital Center’s Department of Medicine will no doubt require a lot of energy, another familiar area for Dr. Sherner. He and his wife, a clinical psychologist, have twin 14-year-olds in high school. He also likes to stay active by playing tennis and basketball, and running. 

“I’m going to be on the move a lot, for sure,” he says. “There’ll be challenges, but I’m looking forward to helping take the Hospital Center’s already outstanding reputation in medicine and patient care to even higher levels.” 

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