Alumni Dr. Gregg Meyer ’84 advises students about leadership in medical field

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Gregg Meyer '84 speaks to Union Community about his experience as a leader in the medical field.
Gregg Meyer ’84 speaks to Union Community about his experience as a leader in the medical field.

On Thursday, March 30, members of the Union community congregated into the Nott Memorial to hear Dr. Gregg Meyer, MD, MSc speak about his experience in the medical field. The Leadership in Medicine Student Advisory Council organized the event and welcomed Dr. Meyer as their first speaker of the trimester. This council is designed to promote and create a dialogue between Union students and leaders in the medical field. Dr. Meyer graduated from Union College in 1984 as Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude. After Union, Dr. Meyer joined the United States Air Force for five years and then attended and graduated from Albany Medical School as magna cum laude.

Additionally, he has earned a master’s degree at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and a master’s degree from the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has authored over 100 articles in the medical field and is currently the Chief Clinical Officer of the Partners Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Meyer began his talk by first warning members of the Union community to “be worthy to serve the suffering.”

He explained to the students how they are at Union for a reason, and are extremely lucky to be members of a community that encourages them to open their eyes and think. He urged students to focus less on their grades and more on how they can improve their ability to think critically and help others. For instance, he stated, “The biggest problems can’t be solved with equations… You will not have all the data at your fingertips.” He detailed how the experiences of students at Union and what they learn from them matter significantly since other, more challenging experiences lie ahead.

Dr. Meyer then provided six main points of advice to the audience. The first point consisted of getting inspiration wherever you can. He reminisced how he started to get interested in medicine when he was in the U.S. Air Force and noticed how vital the medical field was to the military. These observations were what inspired him to attend medical school after his time serving. Dr. Meyer’s second point of advice was that Mary Poppins was right. He explained how “a spoonful of sugar really does make the medicine go down.”

Incentives, such as a sum of money to provide for the dinner of co-workers, can provide a huge amount of aid to the employees and, in turn, strengthen essential relationships. The next point consisted of applying military training to daily life. He explained how anything that is important is difficult to accomplish, since many people will react negatively solely because of its importance. Dr. Meyers asserted that no safe places exist in the real world. He emphasized that dissention is good and leads to improvements.

He urged the audience to never dwell on their successes and to move on to the next issue. He then advised the audience to not be transparent; to learn from mistakes and also from each others’ actions. Meyers discussed how he once knew a patient who should’ve died because of the severity of his situation, but didn’t because one of his colleagues caught the hidden problem in time to provide essential treatment.

Other doctors were shocked to hear this, since the diagnosis was unprecedented. From this story, Meyers emphasizes that lessons can be learned from successes as well as failures. Dr. Meyers suggested that students create a sophisticated support system, since any hardworking person will not get along with everyone. Meyers explained how his friends have an “itch and scratch” game where they tell each other their “itch,” which is one problem that they can’t solve, and their “scratch,” as a problem they’ve solved. He finds this pratice therapeutic, and stated how it has served him well throughout his career.

Lastly, Dr. Meyer advised the audience to “share the love.” By this, Meyers encouraged the audience to help others with their work, let their own efforts and accomplishments be shown through their work, and let their success be reflected through their accomplishments. Never say “I” but rather “we.” He concluded his talk by urging the members of the audience to never apply for a job for which they are qualified; always reach higher so that you can only move upwards. Meyers concluded that rejections will come, but to always maintain the determination to broaden your positive impact on other people’s lives

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