Dr. Richard Prielipp Reflects on Career, Shares Advice for Future Anesthesiologists
“Medical school chose me as much as I chose it,” said Dr. Richard C. Prielipp, thinking back to the beginning of his career as an anesthesiologist.
Dr. Prielipp earned his MD in 1981 from the University of Wisconsin Medical School and began his residency in general surgery, but after two years, he decided to change track.
“I realized that surgery wasn’t my primary passion as I was more interested in activities happening on the anesthesia side of the ether screen; it was the physiology and pharmacology of patient care that I found most fascinating,” said Dr. Prielipp.
Once in the anesthesiology residency program, Dr. Prielipp found his ultimate passion in cardiac anesthesiology and critical care, finding both the culmination of multiple skills and knowledge for some of our most ill patients.
Dr. Prielipp joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2005 as Chair and has been instrumental in Department advancement.
“The environment at the University of Minnesota Medical School is a special one because we are on a rapid upward trajectory. There are so many changes occurring across medicine in general, and academic medicine in particular; I think it’s very fortunate that we are able to work at an institution that is traveling in a positive direction,” said Dr. Prielipp.
Dr. Prielipp has spent his entire career in academic medicine. He was attracted to the marriage of education and research, the two creating a positive feedback loop for questions and answers. Additionally, the ability to work with medical students and other trainees beginning their careers is an exciting opportunity.
“A favorite component of my job is getting to nurture and learn from our anesthesiology residents and students — to see them grow and become accomplished and safe anesthesia providers,” says Dr. Prielipp, “I often cross paths with anesthesiologists I’ve worked with years earlier as trainees and to have them tell me what I did made a difference in their careers is extremely gratifying.”
In June 2018, Dr. Prielipp began a phased retirement in which he will reduce clinical hours but continue in his academic roles as a faculty mentor, educator and investigator. Dr. Prielipp will also continue as an executive section editor (Patient Safety) for the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia.
“If I had advice for future graduates, it would be this: The changes I’ve seen in my career are things I could never have anticipated 25 years ago, and I’m sure the next 25 years will be equally exciting for current trainees. Get a solid educational foundation and you will be well prepared for the future.”