April 25, 2024

Leading the Way

Meet ABA President Thomas M. McLoughlin Jr., M.D.


“We form relationships at some of the most vulnerable times for patients. What I love the most about my specialty and the daily practice of it is when, after speaking with a patient, I leave knowing they trust me.”

Meet ABA President Thomas M. McLoughlin Jr., M.D.

Thomas M. McLoughlin Jr., M.D., currently serves as president of the ABA Board of Directors, and has been a Board Director since 2013. Dr. McLoughlin is chair of the Department of Anesthesiology for Lehigh Valley Health Network and a professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Anesthesiology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Read his full bio here.

What is the biggest misconception surrounding anesthesiology?

The biggest misconception about anesthesiology is that we’re not visible and don’t form relationships with patients. We form relationships at some of the most vulnerable times for patients. What I love the most about my specialty and the daily practice of it is when, after speaking with a patient, I leave knowing they trust me. You can see it in their face. I conduct myself in a way that provides patients the sense that they know I’m going to do my very best to take care of them. This builds that trust in them and creates great satisfaction for me.

Share a recent story about an impactful patient case.

A recent case that really struck me involved a 22-year-old man who had Marfan syndrome, a bicuspid aortic valve and an aortic valve aneurysm that needed to be repaired. This was a young gentleman in the prime of his new adulthood, looking for years of healthy life in the future. This type of case involves the satisfaction that comes from working with a highly functioning team involving surgery, anesthesiology, nursing and perfusion. One of the wonderful things about our specialty is participating in a high-functioning team like that to deliver the highest level of care to complex patients.

What ABA GO resource do you use most frequently?

The ABA GO resource that I use most frequently is the CME Explorer function. As we continue to improve the future of continuing certification, we need to work to create more tools that help individualize the experience so people can find things of personal value to them and their practice, both in the long term and perhaps even in the moment. CME Explorer is a great illustration of the ways we will continue to personalize the experience of continuing certification for our diplomates so that they gain an even greater sense of value from the program.

What ABA project or initiative are you most excited about?

The ABA initiative that I’m most excited about now is our strategic planning process. The Board of Directors has not undertaken a similar strategic planning process for about ten years now. And some really cool things have happened during those ten years.

We launched our Pediatric Anesthesiology subspecialty certification. We began to do our live assessments in the AIME Center, creating a consistent and professional environment for delivering our oral and OSCE exams. We launched MOCA Minute, which was a very influential evolution in how continuing certification knowledge assessments are delivered. And then, finally, most recently, we launched our Adult Cardiac Anesthesiology subspecialty certification.

We have completed many great initiatives, but it’s time to think about what we can continue to do in the next five to 10 years to have a similar impact for both our diplomates and practicing anesthesiologists, as well as our colleagues in the certification community.

Why did you want to become a member of the ABA Board of Directors?

It’s such an interesting situation because you don’t have the opportunity to promote yourself for this role or even to prepare yourself for this role until someone comes to you and begins to offer that opportunity for you as a way of further expressing the service that we provide. The most enjoyable thing about serving on the Board of Directors is the ability to feel in an even deeper way the sense of service that we all must provide to the specialty and each other.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not practicing anesthesia?

I enjoy my wife and my three adult children. I am so proud of the people they have grown into. My son lives nearby in Durham, N.C., and when I travel to the ABA headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., I have the wonderful joy of visiting him. I have another son who is finishing his Ph.D. in biostatistics at Berkeley. My daughter has taught English abroad for the last two years and is coming home soon. I celebrate all of them and love to spend time with them.