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Ryan Ribeira

Stars of Stanford Medicine: Emergency medicine, health policy and innovation

This Stars of Stanford Medicine features Ryan Ribeira, an emergency medicine physician with interests in health policy and technology.

Sometimes, when interviewing those who work or study at Stanford Medicine, I find myself staring, stumped at how they manage to do all they do. It just doesn't seem possible.

I had one of those moments when I was talking with Ryan Ribeira, MD, a clinical instructor of emergency medicine. He's also a CEO of a tech company. And a board member for the American Medical Association. And a father. And a husband. And, well, I could keep going, but let's dive in.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the East Bay and went to UC Davis for med school. My wife is also from the East Bay. We have three kids so having family support, especially when I was going through residency, was crucial.

Why did you go into medicine?

I was originally a computer science major and then switched to business management, because I like working with large systems and with people. But as I got closer to graduation, the thought of spending my career just trying to help some large corporation make money wasn't appealing.

I never knew any physicians, so it just didn't occur to me until I had explored my options.

What are you working on now?

I'm an administrative fellow and getting structured training about becoming a medical director, someone who oversees medical department staffing and operations. I'm currently working on a project to improve patient experience and patient satisfaction.

I also got a little seed grant to build an app for Stanford to give the emergency department a way to look up the policies for each specialty that govern where a patient should be admitted.

I'm also busy with my company, which makes virtual reality medical simulation software.

And, I'm on the Board of Trustees for the AMA — they have one seat for a resident or fellow.

What is most fulfilling about your work?

On the AMA board, the easiest one to answer that question for, I'm the only emergency medicine physician and the only resident or fellow, so I have a lot of opportunities to represent those unique perspectives. I want to make sure the health care system of tomorrow is one that is well suited to people that are in training today.

What is most frustrating?

The AMA obviously doesn't get to set laws or regulations. It's frustrating to see our recommendations fall on deaf ears. Unlike medicine which is very fact-based, politics is not that way and that can be a very frustrating world to operate in.

How do you unwind?

To be honest, my start-up is what I do for fun. It is a fair amount of work, but I really enjoy it. When I've done all my administrative work, finished up all my conference calls, I just want to sit down at my computer and make sure that things are working well at the start-up.

What do your colleagues not know about you?

For a lot of my young life, I was a hard-core punk rocker, which is pretty surprising to people who know me now.

What are you reading now?

I read the news to keep up with political events. I use Reddit a lot.

What are your favorite foods?

Anything that I have never tried before. I enjoy trying new foods more than I enjoy delicious foods.

How do you get into the mood to work?

I tend to get up very, very early. I've found that after a clinical shift I have a hard time focusing on anything else. If I have a shift at 6 a.m., I try to get up at 3 a.m. I slam out a few hours of emails before I go in.

Generally, I go to bed as soon as my kids go to bed.

What is your career goal?

I will always keep a hand in health care policy through organized medicine and a hand in clinical practice. I think I would really enjoy working in an academic environment leveraging technology to improve the efficiency and quality of the care we deliver to patients.

Stars of Stanford Medicine features standout scholars in the School of Medicine.

Photo by Becky Bach

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