Max Hsia-Kiung, MD, is an attending physician who joined the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2016. He is originally from the greater Boston area and received his medical degree at Albany Medical College. Dr. Hsia-Kiung completed his residency at the University at Buffalo and fellowship in Chronic Pain Management at the Cleveland Clinic. He works both as an anesthesiologist in the operating room with the Division of General Surgery and as an attending physician in the Center for Pain Management. He is also Medical Director at the Chronic Pain Management Clinic at North Shore Medical Center.
What advice would you give to new attending physicians?
The Department of Anesthesia at Mass General has many resources to help new physicians with clinical work, research and career development, but sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to look for them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Anesthesiologists are trained to be highly independent, but that can also prevent us from using many of the support systems that a world-class institution like Mass General has to offer.
Why did you choose to enter the fields of anesthesia and pain medicine?
I chose to pursue anesthesiology because it is a fascinating blend of physiology, critical care and airway management, all of which must be practiced while guiding patients through the very stressful experience of undergoing surgery. Anesthesiologists are also uniquely positioned to tackle large problems within a hospital system as we work at the cross section of so many different disciplines.
My interest in pain management arose from my desire to see patients longitudinally, to watch their progress over time, which we rarely get to see while practicing anesthesiology. Pain management is also a challenging field that requires new and creative therapies for patients who are in dire need of care, and it has been, and continues to be, an area of exciting research and innovation.
What made you want to practice at Mass General?
I think for any physician the allure of practicing at a world-renowned institution like Mass General is undeniable, particularly considering its rich history and its setting in the heart of a vibrant, beautiful city like Boston. I was also personally drawn to the opportunity to work in both anesthesia and pain management at a teaching institution that was at the forefront of clinical practice.
In your opinion, what does the future of pain medicine look like?
Chronic pain is slowly being recognized as its own condition that has broad and dramatic effects on our population’s health. I think the medical community is also beginning to realize that management of chronic pain using only oral medications is not always effective, and this is driving doctors and scientists looking for new modalities of treatment. These innovations will likely come from ways of modulating nerve signals directly with injectable medications, biomedical devices and comprehensive rehabilitation.