Adam Stein's Path to Leadership
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Adam Stein's Path to Leadership

Adam Stein, MD serves as the Chair of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and a Professor at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/ Northwell. An AAP member since 1997, Adam is currently the President of the AAP’s Board of Trustees. He also directs all physical medicine and rehabilitation services and education across Northwell Health. His focus is on building a strategic plan for rehabilitation medicine, promoting utilization of services throughout the continuum and developing programs of distinction. Discover Adam's path to leadership – in his words.

“You can’t put clay in the sun and get fine porcelain. You have to go through the white heat of the kiln”.

In the summer of 1981, at age 20, I heard Dr. Howard Rusk say those words; they have been a part of me ever since. When I spent the summer of 1984 on a spinal cord injury unit at what is now Rusk Rehabilitation, the meaning of those words became tangible. Thirty-five years later, I still feel completely energized when I meet a newly injured person. In that summer I also met my role model and mentor, Kris Ragnarsson. After completing residency, I knew where, and with whom, I wanted to work. “The Boss”, as we called Kris, had a transformative effect on my career in many ways; through his guidance and example I learned much about accountability, leadership, effective communication, and active listening. One of his favorite axioms, “action absorbs anxiety” has served me particularly well.

As I became interested in medical education, the Boss made it clear that I needed to join the AAP. My initial experience with the AAP was as a fledgling Program Director. It is not an exaggeration to say that by attending the Residency Program Directors Council Programs at the Annual Meetings, I was provided virtually all the information and networking that I needed to grow into this role. The programs were extremely high yield and the collegiality and willingness of other Program Directors to advise me was exceptional. Success as a Program Director was empowering; I became motivated to make a difference in undergraduate medical education. The AAP’s Medical Student Educators Council was an important resource in this regard. My ability to plan and direct the initial module of the “The Art and Science of Medicine” course at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, entitled “The Experience of Illness”, would never have happened without the Council. In fact, my involvement as a medical educator allowed me to become a candidate to Chair a department, as I do now at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/ Northwell. The AAP, therefore, has been absolutely critical to my career growth.

Since 2011, I have served the AAP in a variety of roles, Board Member at Large, Chair of the Membership Committee, Secretary/Treasurer, President-Elect and now as the organization’s President. During this time I have had the privilege of receiving outstanding mentorship and leadership training from the recent past presidents: Mike Boninger, Kate Stolp, Gerard Francisco and John Chae. Under their leadership, the organization has grown in size, scope and inclusivity, allowing the AAP to truly be the home of academic physiatry.