Dedication to hard work, a passion for improving health outcomes and medical curricula, a background in business administration, and a knack for team-building have catapulted Alpesh Amin, MD, MBA, FACP, to the forefront of change at the University of California at Irvine Health Affairs, comprised of the UC Irvine Medical Center and School of Medicine. Those skill sets and determination have landed Dr. Amin an HM first: appointment as interim chair of an academic Department of Medicine.
Dr. Amin’s new role—he supervises 11 divisions and more than 200 faculty—means he’s responsible for the department’s budget and administration. He also is charged with advancing the department’s clinical, teaching, and research missions, demonstrating that it’s possible for hospitalists to rise through the department ranks through an HM track. And that, says Scott Flanders, SHM’s president-elect and associate professor of medicine and director of the HM program at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, “bodes well for the future of academic hospitalists at many institutions across the country.”
Traditionally, lofty hospital appointments have gone to academics with a background in biomedical and basic science research. But as academic and teaching hospitals focus more and more on quality issues and improved performance, hospitalists are positioned to advance into department leadership positions.
Dr. Amin’s appointment could signal the first of many opportunities for academic hospitalists, according to Joseph Ming-Wah Li, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the HM program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Dr. Li, who served with Dr. Amin on SHM’s Board of Directors, was not surprised when Alpesh was named the first hospitalist to chair a department of medicine. “He is a very gregarious person, he’s bright, and he’s logical in his thinking,” Dr. Li says.
Dr. Amin credits his family with instilling in him strong values and dedication to his work. Born in Baroda, India, he emigrated to the U.S. before his first birthday; he graduated from Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, Calif., in 1985, and from UC San Diego with a degree in bioengineering in 1989. He obtained his MD in 1994 from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
During his internship and residency at UC Irvine, Dr. Amin pondered the possibilities of a subspecialty within internal medicine. He opted to follow his interests in medical education and healthcare outcomes and research. The HM field intrigued him, he says, “because there was an opportunity to improve on systems and patient-care delivery.” Numerous mentors along the way encouraged his interests in curriculum development and design, quality improvement, and developing delivery models for patient care.
As a medical resident, Dr. Amin demonstrated a desire to become a leader and change agent. “He was truly an outstanding resident, and then he joined the faculty and did spectacularly in organizing the hospitalist program, which has become very successful,” recalls Nosratola D. Vaziri, MD, chief of the division of nephrology and hypertension at UC Irvine’s School of Medicine. Dr. Amin founded the UC Irvine hospitalist program in 1998. At the same time, he acquired his MBA in healthcare administration, thus rounding out an already impressive skill set. “The MBA has been a valuable tool,” says Dr. Amin, “because I learned—among other skills—leadership, strategic planning, developing business plans, and improving on operations.”
He has applied those techniques throughout his career, serving in various leadership roles at his institution, including medicine clerkship director, associate program director for the internal medicine residency program, vice chair for clinical affairs and quality assurance, and chief of the division of general internal medicine.