Dr. Marc Berg (‘89) is a pediatric critical care physician who also leads and supports an annual Pediatric Simulation Game where trainees learn how to resuscitate infants and children. The Duluth Campus alumnus is passionate about his work and its positiv

As a pediatric critical care physician at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital – Stanford in Palo Alto, California, Dr. Marc Berg (' 89) is no stranger to the balance of grief and joy in his work. "I don't think this is a 35-year career," he said. "Children dying is never easy, and that happens nearly every week. I'm on service in a busy ICU but have the privilege of working with an amazing team of the most dedicated caregivers. I am present when miraculous things happen. That never gets old. It's high highs and low lows, but I love it." 

While Dr. Berg focuses on his role with the PICU, he serves as a Medical School Alumni Relations board member and leads the Philanthropy committee. "We had a remarkable first year," he said, "with great support and commitment from many who value the School of Medicine. This passion continues in year two with staff and alumni who are all in for raising funds to support the university medical school and the students." 

Among his professional roles, Dr. Berg is also a clinical professor and a teacher of medical simulation, and he pursues various research projects. He is also involved with educational technology and digital health. "It's engaging and fast and ever-changing. I love the physiology in action in ICU. Teaching the next generation of doctors is always exciting and rewarding."
Before his role in the Children's Hospital, Dr. Berg enjoyed 16 years as a faculty member at the University of Arizona in Tucson. This experience was preceded by two years post-fellowship in western Michigan, and his place as a medical school student began in Duluth at the northern campus. "I'm originally from Ottertail County in Minnesota," he said. "My mom grew up on a farm there. I was born in Waconia, which is west of Minneapolis. My undergrad studies were at the Twin Cities campus. I had a lot of friends and all the distractions of the cities. I needed to immerse myself in the study of medicine. Duluth felt that way. I liked the holistic approach to the patient – the true family medicine concept. Even though I became a pediatric subspecialist, the Duluth Campus was everything I had hoped it would be." 

During his two years in Duluth, Dr. Berg recalls that the tight-knit class at the medical school became a family and an incredibly positive force for the campus community. "Showing up in the morning was like seeing family. We took that outside the classroom with several adventures around Duluth and northern Minnesota on the weekend. Another big draw was the professors' availability, which was really inspiring. Patrick Ward and Lily Repesh were among the top faculty who inspired me." 

Even though Dr. Berg loved the Duluth Campus experience, he found himself hailing across horizons, taking him into lecture halls and classrooms where he taught pediatric resuscitation from Italy to Japan. For an upcoming trip to Rome, he will serve as a jury for the fifth time since 2017 for the Pediatric Simulation Games. In this role, he is tasked with teaching and critiquing pediatric resident teams, with a maximum of 30 teams from Italy and six from other countries. "There are several scenarios," he said. "That the teams will perform. About 80% of all pediatric medical residents prepare for this all year." 
From pediatric drug intoxications to rare pediatric diseases in the emergency room, the simulated experience teaches valuable skills for real-life situations. Dr. Berg notes that the head-to-head competition is like nothing he has seen in the United States. "They have songs. They have t-shirts. They are serious about winning. We've made the simulations harder and harder to push teams to realize where they can go and what they can do. In the end, everyone wins because everyone's skill level rises. It's wonderful to engage with people who share the same desire to improve health outcomes in kids, no matter the region or language." 

When Dr. Berg considers the miracles he has witnessed while balancing the grief of pediatric losses, he recalls when the annual Pediatric Simulation Games had concluded. A tiny baby in northern Italy presented to the emergency department in shock with respiratory failure. One of the pediatric trainees who had participated in the simulation games was present. "The trainee did all the right things in this real emergency," he said. "It made all the difference in the world and probably saved the baby's life. Everyone who had trained that person to help that baby felt immense gratification. It is exactly why we do what we do."