New CHEST President reflects on her career, shares vision for future

Stephanie Levine, MD, FCCP
Stephanie Levine, MD, FCCP

Monday morning Stephanie Levine, MD, FCCP, began her tenure as president of CHEST. In accepting the reins from Past President Clayton Cowl, MD, MS, FCCP, Dr. Levine became the 82nd president of CHEST and the fifth woman to lead the organization.

When Dr. Levine addressed the membership for the first time as president during Monday’s Opening Session, she shared highlights from her life and career and outlined her vision for the coming year.

Dr. Levine—who grew up surrounded by science thanks to her pioneering biochemist parents—said she knew from a young age that she wanted to do something in science or medicine.

“It’s been over 30 years since I attended my first CHEST meeting in Anaheim, California, as a fellow in training, and I’m now here, as incoming president of CHEST,” she said. “This is, without a doubt, the highlight of my professional career—to now give back as President to an organization that has shaped my career.”

During her remarks, she reflected on how the practice of pulmonary medicine has changed since the early days of her career.

“Those were different times,” Dr. Levine said. “This was the mid-80s when a newly identified fatal illness—HIV—was just being described. There were many fears, misperceptions, and unknowns. Cystic fibrosis was a pediatric disease. Lung transplantation was just advancing from animal models to more wide-spread human transplantation. The training was also different. I was the last year of the 2-year pulmonary critical care fellowship. I was also one of the last years when there was no such thing as duty hours.”

In the years since, Dr. Levine, professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary diseases and critical care medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, has been a part of many advances in the profession.

Not only does she have a long-standing history in CHEST leadership, Dr. Levine served as the inaugural chair of the Transplant NetWork and later became Chair on the Council of NetWorks. She has been actively involved with the ongoing CHEST SEEKTM Pulmonary and Critical Care Editorial Boards for more than 25 years and is currently on the CHEST Board of Regents. She previously served as Co-chair of the annual meeting and has served as Chair of the Education Committee and Membership Committee. Dr. Levine has also served as both President and Chair of the CHEST Foundation.

Looking forward, Dr. Levine said, as president, her goal is to continue to make CHEST the welcoming home for interprofessional health-care team members seeking to obtain the best possible educational experiences and patient outcomes.

“To do this, I will focus on member engagement and outreach,” she said. “I plan to enhance the structure and function of our NetWorks to ensure maximum opportunities for leadership and engagement.”

Dr. Levine has already established a task force to this end and work has begun.

“CHEST will continue to re-examine what members want to ensure we’re providing the best value to our membership,” she said. “As president, I’m committed to actively engage our fellows in training and encourage diversity in our future leaders. I will reach out to engage and educate all members of our health-care teams, including our advanced practice providers, who are an integral part of our patient care teams.”