AUGUSTA, Ga. (Sept. 8, 2016) – Dr. Michael B. Hocker, a former Navy flight surgeon and chief and medical director of the Division of Emergency Medicine at Duke University, is the new J. Harold Harrison, MD, Distinguished University Chair in Emergency Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
In addition to his endowed chair, Hocker will also serve as the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine’s vice chairman of clinical operations. He also will be the university’s assistant designated institutional official for graduate medical education and assistant director of Augusta University’s Leadership Academy.
“That is one of my big interests, working on how we develop young leaders and continue to bring leadership and professionalism into health care,” Hocker said. “Dr. Harrison was a true leader, and I was very inspired by his story, of how he came from humble beginnings and through hard work and dedication, became a successful physician and businessman. I’m truly honored to be given this opportunity and have to thank Dr. Buckley, the Harrison family and the Department of Emergency Medicine for making this a reality.”
Hocker, a Colorado native and graduate of Columbine High School, was the first in his family to go to college. He grew up with an uncle who ran an ambulance service in the Denver area, and Hocker started working as an EMT during college. He paid for his undergraduate degree from Fort Lewis College, where he graduated summa cum laude, and for medical school at the University of Colorado by working nights and weekends as an EMT and eventually joining the U.S. Navy.
After graduating from medical school with honors in 1993, he completed a surgery internship at UC Davis’s East Bay program and went on to train as a naval flight surgeon the following year. He served as a surgeon on the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Hawaii until 1997 and was recognized as the Flight Surgeon of the Year. He also worked as an urgent care staff physician at Honolulu’s Straub Clinic and Hospital before returning to the University of Massachusetts to complete an emergency medicine residency, eventually serving as chief resident. “I feel strongly that as emergency medicine physicians, we have an opportunity to be the best part of someone’s worst day and are here to treat any patient at any time. We are truly the safety net of the nation’s health care system.”
Hocker was recruited by Duke University in 2002 to help start its new emergency medicine program. A year later, he was named medical director of clinical operations for the new division. In 2007, he began serving as chief, where he was instrumental in developing one of the country’s top emergency medicine training programs. While at Duke, he also helped facilitate partnerships between the university’s emergency medicine department and universities in Singapore, Uganda, Tanzania and China to develop innovative models of emergency medical care and education.
Hocker had known Dr. Richard Schwartz, chair of MCG’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalists Services, since his military days when they were residents together. “He reached out and told me about this new position and to see if I was interested,” he said. “I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to be able to continue practicing emergency medicine as well as teaching students and residents, and utilizing my leadership, operational and administrative experience to help develop the next generation of leaders at Augusta University. We not only need to provide excellent care, but need to be compassionate and kind health care providers who promote patient-centered care.”
At MCG, he also plans to remain actively involved in research that is focused on improving emergency care, locally and globally.
Hocker is actively involved as a member of the Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, the American Academy of Emergency Medicine and the American Medical Association.