Gregg Margolis in the Spotlight

Gregg Margolis, PhD, NREMT-P, recently ac­cepted a position as direc­tor of the Division of Healthcare Systems and Health Policy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Re­sponse for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


Based in Washington, D.C., Margolis says his current role involves looking at the policy side of preparedness and response, including how to build strong, sustainable healthcare systems that operate effectively and efficiently every day and are prepared for and respond to public health emergencies.


Prior to his government service, Margolis was the associate director of the National Registry of EMTs (NREMT). He joined the NREMT in 2003, and oversaw the Research, Community Relations and Recertification Departments. Prior to that, he spent 14 years in academics at the University of Pittsburgh and George Washington University.


In 2009, Margolis was awarded a one-year fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellows Program, the first time an EMS professional has participated in the program. During that time, he worked on Capitol Hill while Congress passed healthcare reform. It proved an invaluable experience, he says.


Looking back on the path his career has taken, Margolis is pleased. “I have been very fortunate–I was really happy in every job I had,” he says. “Each door seemed to open another one, which prepared me to have an impact in a different way.”


Margolis says he loved being a field paramedic. “It was one of the best experiences I ever had. But I could only impact a couple of patients at a time,” he says. Teaching paramedic students and becoming involved in research further provided an opportunity to influence patient care indirectly. That experience led to his interest in EMS policy.


“Now I have the opportunity to bring emergency care to healthcare policy conversations in a way that hasn’t been represented well in the past,” he says.


Margolis is excited that current Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, recognizes the importance of emergency care and EMS as a healthcare system and an essential component of an overall preparedness package. It’s that enlightened vision that intrigued and encouraged him to make the move to HHS.


“I’m looking forward to getting EMS more involved in preparedness. As Dr. Lurie often says, “˜If we can’t do it every day, then we won’t be able to do it when the system is stressed,'” he says.


Other major policy issues he hopes to examine include reimbursement, integrating emergency care into the electronic health records and defining and measuring quality in a way that rewards agencies for providing quality care.


Margolis expects to continue to write and participate in conferences involving the emergency care community, sharing what he is learning from the policy makers.


He encourages others who may be interested in leveraging their EMS experience on a broader scale to follow in his footsteps. “This is a career path I hope other people will consider,” he says. “Clinicians bring an important perspective and credibility to the policy process. You know the challenges facing the system in a way that’s much more tangible because you treat patients on a daily basis. Whether you are a paramedic, nurse or physician, you can take that field clinical experience and make an impact in a different way.”

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