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Q&A: Local Emergency Medicine Physician Shares His Proudest Memory (You Might be Surprised!)

In addition to his roles as Medical Director for Disaster Medicine and Management Masters Program and as Division Director for EMS and Disaster Medicine, Steven J. Parrillo, DO, FACOEP, FACEP is, most of all, an emergency medicine physician and an educator. This means that the Einstein Healthcare Network doctor is tasked with not only aiding patients during the most traumatic moments of their lives, but also instilling vital lessons about disaster medicine. 

To ensure he’s always available to assist patients in need (emergency departments operate 24 hours a day!), the longtime Subaru owner relies on his 2015 Subaru Outback.

“I never worry that my car won’t start or that it will get not get me to work,” he says.

Describe your role as a medical director in disaster medicine and management.

I developed my personal interest in hospital emergency management in the early 80s and have served in the field that entire time. I can tell you that hospital emergency management in 2016 is a very different discipline than it was back then.

Einstein plays a very active role in emergency medical services in Philadelphia as well as Chester and Montgomery Counties. I oversee our relationship with several private EMS agencies. One of my EMS Division members is our liaison with Philly EMS. Additionally, Division faculty members are very much involved with federal disaster preparedness and response.

What inspired you to pursue this profession?

In 1978, my first Chairman tapped me to be the hospital’s Chair for what we then called the Disaster Committee. I loved the job of making sure the hospital was prepared for anything. Twelve years ago, a colleague at Philadelphia University approached me about starting a masters degree program in Disaster Medicine and Management. That program started 10 years ago and I still teach courses and serve as Medical Director.

What is the best part about your job?

My two favorite roles are clinician and educator. There’s nothing I enjoy more than interacting with people. As an ED physician I get to do what I love every time I’m on duty. I began my career in education when we started the emergency medicine residency at PCOM in 1979, then moved it to Einstein in 1989. Most of my role as an educator now is through the Philadelphia University masters program.

What has been your proudest moment in your profession?

Tough one, but would have to say it was when I hooded my wife when she graduated medical school. The hood is the cape that is placed over the graduate’s head during the graduation ceremony. Incidentally, she drove the first family Subaru in 1989.

What is a common misconception people make about your line of work?

Ha! As a doctor, many patients expect me to know everything about everything. As an emergency physician, many believe that I’m on when I’m on and off when I’m off. I explain to them that they have confused what I do with a 9-5 job. Medicine is a career, not a job.

What model Subaru do you drive?

Finally, an easy question!  I now drive a 2015 Outback. It is my third Outback, but my fifth Subaru.

From which dealer did you purchase your Subaru?

John Kennedy Subaru in Plymouth Meeting.

How has your Subaru made your life easier?

I never worry that my car won’t start or that it will get not get me to work. The ED functions 24/7 so I need to be as sure as I can be that I will make it in. I’m not foolish when I drive, but I know I can get to work when many cannot.

Has there been a moment where your career in healthcare and being an owner of a Subaru has intersected?

I’ve never thought about an intersection between the two, but I will tell you that I demand much of myself professionally and wouldn’t drive a vehicle that isn’t able to meet my demands.

Subaru supports and thanks the entire medical community in the Greater Philadelphia area. Read more about their Subaru love stories. For more information about finding the right ride for you, click here.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length.