Porter Medical Center president still a practicing physician

Published: May. 15, 2018 at 7:22 AM EDT
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For some, wearing multiple hats at work is common. What's not so common is being the president of a hospital while still practicing medical procedures.

Dr. Fred Kniffin became the UVM Health Network's Porter Medical Center president in March 2016. Before taking on this role, for years, Kniffin was an emergency room physician. That's why once every two weeks, Kniffin walks away from his desk, grabs a pair of scrubs and swaps out his role as president to be an ER doctor.

"To have a job where you come in each day, it's always interesting, stimulates your brain and you have the opportunity to help people. Even the smallest things are big things to people," explained Kniffin.

His drive to keep practicing medicine meant not giving it up once he became president. He said the medical center board was hesitant to let him continue his clinical work but agreed and wrote it into his contract. Kniffin believes the two jobs go hand-in-hand.

"I need to size up the issue and make some decisions and then move on to the next one," said Kniffin. "Patient care work really keeps me in touch with why we're here."

And besides patients sometimes recognizing him from a news article or spotting his nametag at work, Kniffin says patients don't seem thrown off to learn the medical center president is taking care of them.

"They seem to accept it, I think they like it, I don't know," said Kniffin.

Kniffin acknowledged his double title is rare in the medical field but says there are a handful of medical professionals who are part of UVM's health network juggling an administrative job while still practicing medicine.

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