Dr. Marcus Martin, Founder of UVa’s Emergency Medicine Center Credit: Photo: University of Virginia

In September 2014, the Tom Tom Founders Festival launched the Founding Cville project which highlights local artists, civic leaders and entrepreneurs “whose groundbreaking and original work has impacted Charlottesville and the world.” Charlottesville Tomorrow is republishing the eighteen profiles of each of the inaugural Founders.

Dr. Marcus Martin, Founder of UVa’s Emergency Medicine Center

Few people excel in a single field. It is an extraordinary person who achieves great things in two. Marcus Martin’s commitment to justice and opportunity has made him not only a national authority on emergency medicine, but he is also a great champion of diversity at the University of Virginia. Martin is Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at the University of Virginia. He is Professor and past chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UVa and one of the nation’s preeminent authorities on emergency medicine. Dr. Martin established the Emergency Medicine Center for Education, Research, and Technology (EMCERT) and the Life Saving Techniques course for medical students at UVa.

What is EMCERT?

EMCERT was established to enhance emergency care of patients through relevant educational/research and technological initiatives.

How was it started?

I had the vision of eliminating the use of live animals for procedural skills practice. For example, dogs and cats had been used in the past for intubation. One way of doing that was to create a course and facility that simulated patient care. So after teaching for many years as an emergency medicine residency program director including courses in advanced cardiac life support, pediatric life support, and advanced trauma life support, I was set on building a center with an education and research focus utilizing computerized and part task simulation models. Some training models have involved collaborative research with engineers and nurses such like prostate exam and chest tube insertion simulators. Centers like EMCERT can provide training to students in a variety of ways before they touch a human patient.

My work in diversity and in emergency care share a common thread around social justice. To me, both are about caring for individuals no matter their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, or other aspects that make individuals different from others. As an emergency physician with an awareness and culture  throughout his career to look out for people no matter who they are, it was a natural transition for Dr. Martin to take on the role of Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity at the University. I view my job at UVa to be supportive of everyone who comes through our doors to progress, thrive, and have a wholesome life.

What was the biggest setback?

The biggest setback was limitation on space to create a center. When I was Chair of Emergency Medicine, we initially stored our simulation equipment in one small closet. We would mobilize this equipment including a computerized mannequin into one of the trauma rooms in the ER on the days we held life saving techniques workshops for students. Years later, we renovated an unused research lab about 1,000 square feet to create a simulation center. And from there, we helped with the design of a 50,000 square foot Claude Moore Medical Education Building with the current high tech simulation center occupying one floor.

When did you begin to suspect this could be a success?

First we received a grant  from the Claude Moore Foundation and purchased a $60,000 computerized medical simulator. Subsequently, we added a $250,000 simulator. From there we developed the UVa Medical Simulation Center.

What has been the biggest positive impact you have observed?

The biggest success has been the design of the UVa Medical Simulation Center and the training of thousands of students over the past several years. For students of all levels, the opportunity to practice, fail, and to go back and learn from their mistakes has been invaluable. Students can practice over and over in simulation until they get it right, which they can’t do on a human.

Also at the simulation center, the very youngest students in the pipeline can get excited about healthcare. Often middle and high school students are brought in to watch & learn the language of healthcare, and to practice what they have learned.

Because of its mission, EMCERT has provided funds to doctors and researchers to support emergency airway management research, hip reductions, and ultrasound, and  automated external defibrillators to the community.

Have you founded other businesses or initiatives?

I founded a group called IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access). It is a University of Virginia  alumni group that provides support of diversity initiatives, including an early identification program for underprivileged students who want to go to college. The IDEA Trustees  helped with efforts to establish the President’s Commission  on Slavery and the University which I co- chair. Though the work of my office, the Charlottesville Community Health Fair has been going for about 8 years in conjunction with the African American Cultural Arts Festival. My office established and coordinates a number of committees including the Diversity Council, LGBT Committee, Disability Access Committee, and the MLK, Jr. Community Celebration Committee which hosts 25 to 35 events annually during two weeks of celebration in January. My office also coordinates the Women’s  Leadership Council at UVa and provides resources in support of numerous student, faculty and community organizations.

How do you define Founding?

To establish or originate something new. In the case of EMCERT, value is added though healthcare education and research to improve patient care.

What brought you to Charlottesville, and what keeps you here?

I came here as Chair of Emergency Medicine in 1996. My wife and I  grew up in Virginia, but prior to coming to the University, we lived in Pittsburgh for 15 years. Our parents were getting older, so when this opportunity came up to return to Virginia as the first chair of the newly established Department of Emergency Medicine it was a wonderful opportunity we could not refuse. What has kept me here has been the wonderful community, my commitment to emergency care, to diversity and inclusion and three of my four children completed their education here at UVa.

What’s next?

The EMCERT endowment has grown significantly since its founding. The EMCERT Fund needs to continue to grow to support the simulation center, and emergency medical  education and research and technology needs in our community. I plan to continue serving as Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity synergizing efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion at the University and in the community. I developed a course on health care and disaster preparedness in St. Kitts and Nevis which has  benefited the Ministry of Health of this small two-island Eastern Caribbean Federation, healthcare providers there, and UVa student education for 7 years now. I plan to continue providing this type of healthcare education and complete publication of some unfinished work including a book on “Diversity and Inclusion in Quality Patient Care.” My work as co- chair of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University will be ongoing leading up to the University of Virginia’s bicentennial in 2017.

Founding Cville culminated in an award ceremony at Tom Tom’s Fall Block Party
with over 6,000 in attendance | Credit: Tom Daly Photography