Speaker Spotlight: Curtis N. Sessler

Speaker Spotlight: Curtis N. Sessler

Curtis N. Sessler, 
MD, FCCP

Orhan Muren Professor of
Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond Virginia

CHEST Past President (2014-2015)


Session: Extinguishing ICU Burnout: An interactive session focusing on recognizing, preventing, and managing burnout on Monday #StopICUBurnout

This year’s ‘BIG Easy’ theme focuses on going BIG for patients back home. How do you plan on taking that message back to your practice?

Be an advocate for addressing the BIG problem of burnout among ICU health-care professionals. Implement and support programs to address drivers of burnout. Help clinicians to become more aware of the problem of burnout and how they can support their colleagues and themselves.

What was the impetus for your presentation and/or research?

My interest in burnout among health-care professions stems from working with experts from major critical care-focused professional societies via the Critical Care Societies Collaborative (CCSC). We published a paper in 2016 highlighting the problem and continue to do work in the area. I’m also very interested in enhancing wellness and mitigating burnout in my home institution.

How would you summarize your session in a tweet? 

Join the fight against burnout among ICU healthcare professionals by learning more about how you can recognize, prevent, and manage burnout at this session at CHEST 2019 in the Big Easy!

Which pulmonology innovation do you think is the most promising and why?

Lung transplant—gives the patient a second chance.

What was your first job and what did it teach you?

I guess my first “permanent” job was as an intern in internal medicine at Wake Forest. There are many, many learning opportunities in such a position—it certainly teaches you humility, inspiration, grit, respect for your patients and co-workers, awe of your brilliant teachers, and true wonder for the amazing, resilient human body.

Who has helped shaped your career the most?

Working with great people in a multi-professional setting and learning from their varying perspectives. Dr. Orhan Muren was a mentor to me and many others early in my career, and now I am proud to be the Orhan Muren Distinguished Professor of Medicine.

Do you think your pet knows you’re away from home? What is its name?

Our cats Leo and Lilly definitely know when their “mom” (my wife Pam) is away.

How do you plan on experiencing the NOLA culture?

Enjoying the wonderful people, music, and food!