Lia Tron, MD, MPH, is an attending physician in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.
She attended medical school followed by a Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. She was a resident and then the Chief Resident in Anesthesiology and Critical Care before joining the Division of Neuroanesthesia in 2012. She moved to Philadelphia where she worked for the United Anesthesia Services. In 2015, she returned to the northeast and joined the Mass General faculty. Her interests include process improvement and patient safety.
Currently, she is the head of a multidisciplinary team to improve post-operative patient handoffs and is leading a project to improve anesthesia tech education.
Learn more about why she chose to enter the field of anesthesia in this short Q&A.
Why did you want to enter health care and become a physician?
My father was a physician and we moved to West Africa for his work for a couple years when I was an adolescent. It had a strong formative effect on me. My interest in the study of communication and science, and the desire to serve others, grew rapidly. Medicine is an opportunity to bring my interests in communication and science to help patients and their families. Working in the intense team environment of the perioperative arena is profoundly challenging and rewarding.
What advice would you give to new attending physicians?
Whether you join the faculty where you trained or join a new department, the transition to attending is a steep learning curve. It can be extremely lonely, and can take longer to settle than most people expect.
Be patient with yourself, knock on doors and chat with your colleagues. They are either going through or have been through this same transition. And of course, I highly recommend you spend some time rediscovering some of your other interests that were largely put on hold during residency. Spending time with my family cooking and hiking brings me great joy.
What is your favorite aspect of being a physician?
Being a physician, and specifically an anesthesiologist, is a better fit for my interests than I ever could have imagined. There are so many aspects I enjoy. I love being surrounded by bright people working hard towards the common goal of helping patients every day. I get such a kick out of the learning environment that surrounds us here at Mass General. The desire to learn is satisfying to me.
What made you want to practice at Mass General?
When I interviewed at Mass General, I was struck immediately by how caring, kind and motivated the team members are. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to work with such extraordinary residents, CRNAs and anesthesiologists.
In your opinion, what does the future of anesthesiology look like?
I see the role of anesthesiology expanding as the population ages and lifespans increase, in conjunction with more procedures available to address more health problems affecting the elderly. I view the role of anesthesiologists growing in the areas of non-operating room (OR) anesthesia, complex pain management while minimizing or avoiding opioids, end of life care, crisis resource management and expert communicators in high stakes situations.
What challenges have you faced?
In a world where gender discrimination remains strong, I have been profoundly fortunate to grow up in a family and have teachers and mentors that support me. For example, during my internship, my spouse brought me dinner on call nights. My male and female mentors have offered me opportunities throughout, never assuming that because I have small children, I would not be able.
My medical school and work have felt like true meritocracies, with very rare exception. The challenges I face are subtle. I think that gender plays a role in communication in a very deep-set way. For example, the phrases, tones and postures adopted. I strive to be aware of it and, as a wise colleague once said, “it doesn't matter who is right, but what is right.” Therefore, I work to observe and learn about the non-verbal and verbal communication so we can actively remove the focus from the people to the issue.
I am delighted to work in this environment that rewards hard work and excellent care, and that actively works to support me.