April 01, 2012

Rich Prager, MD: Cardiac surgeon

Rich Prager, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I’m an adult cardiac surgeon. I’m also one of the four U-M Cardiovascular Center directors, the program director for our Thoracic Surgery residency and I help lead the third- and fourth-year medical student clerkships in adult cardiac surgery. My research interest lies in clinical outcomes and quality improvement, and I’m the project director for a statewide quality initiative in cardiac surgery.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

That’s easy – I enjoy and am humbled by the opportunity to improve people’s health and well-being, as well as be a teacher for the next generation of surgeons. I also welcome the challenge to improve our care systems.

When you’re not working, what do you do?

When I step away from work, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Laurie, and our children and grandchildren. I also continue to play tennis and try to run!

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I would have to say that I’m most proud of our children – the people they’ve become and where they’re headed with their lives. From the professional perspective, I’m also honored to have been able to do what I do in an environment of excellence – a health system (UMHS) that has only the highest goals – to provide superior and compassionate care to all patients and set new paradigms for clinical care, research, education and innovation.

Who has inspired you?

I’ve been lucky to have mentors and friends who have inspired me and supported me and helped me recognize goals best suited for me. Starting with my father, who was an internal medicine physician, along with several physicians and teachers here and elsewhere. Over the last many years, the balance and perspective in my life is a testament to my wife, Laurie, who is my inspiration.

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?

Probably things I still don’t want them to know!

What was the last book you read?

I just finished a biography of Ernie Pyle, the great WWII correspondent. Anyone interested in World War II should read this book. His honesty and ability to relay moments of war, combat and warriors made this book hard to put down.