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Getting to Know Our New President

Dr. Kathy Tynus takes on the top officer role for the coming year

By Cheryl England

When internal medicine specialist Kathy M. Tynus, MD, finished medical school she didn’t dream that she’d end up as the 167th president of one of the largest and most prestigious county medical societies in the nation. “I’m grateful to be given this opportunity to lead this historic society,” says Dr. Tynus. “I will continue the work that Immediate Past President Dr. Kenneth Busch and his many predecessors began in being a strong advocate for physicians and their patients.”

Born and raised in Jefferson Park on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Dr. Tynus attended Resurrection High School. It was during her teen years that she became interested in medicine. “When I was in high school, I worked as a nurse’s aide in our local community hospital and I loved it,” she says. “I loved the interaction with patients; I loved helping them at their most vulnerable time. And, of course, I liked the challenge of the work. Plus, my mother was a nurse and I learned a lot from her about the human body and how to take care of people.”

After high school, Dr. Tynus attended Northwestern University, majoring in speech and communications. She received her medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford before completing her residency training in internal medicine at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. Upon graduation she served as chief resident in internal medicine at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where she accepted a faculty position and rose to the post of program director of the hospital’s transitional year residency program, a position she held for 13 years. Currently, Dr. Tynus serves as an internal medicine physician at Northwestern Medical Group.

An accomplished educator, Dr. Tynus has lectured nationally on issues in transitional year residency training, such as patient safety and quality improvement, best practices, and career planning. In 2010, Dr. Tynus was appointed to the American Board of Internal Medicine’s Exam Writing Committee and in 2004 she was awarded the AMA Physician’s Recognition Award. Dr. Tynus also has been awarded both a Gold and Silver Apple Award for teaching from the residents and students at MacNeal Hospital.

A fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the Association for Hospital Medical Education, Dr. Tynus serves on the executive committee of the Council of Transitional Year Program Directors, where she served as co-chair of the Council for two years. Most recently she was appointed to the ACGME Transitional Year Review Committee.

But for the next year, much of Dr. Tynus’ time will be devoted to furthering the goals of CMS, which she has been a member of since 2006. Since joining, she has served on the Public Health, Membership, International Medical Graduate, Continuing Medical Education and Midwest Clinical Conference Committees. At the Illinois State Medical Society, Dr. Tynus has served on the Council on Education and Health Workforce, and the Finance Committee.

In her new role, Dr. Tynus plans to continue the good fight in reducing the regulatory burden on physicians, protecting physicians’ rights in malpractice litigation, and being ever vigilant for scope-of-practice overreach by other health professionals. She’s especially adamant about advocating for an increase in graduate medical education (GME) funding and chipping away at the myriad rules and regulations being forced upon physicians. When it comes to GME funding she says: “Medical schools foresaw the looming physician shortage and increased their class sizes appropriately, but the government has not faced up to the challenge by increasing the residency cap.”

On the burden of bureaucracy, she adds: “Physicians spend an inordinate amount of time trying to comply with regulations. The amount of paperwork is not only frustrating, but it is also driving some physicians out of practice. There’s no quick fix but CMS can be another voice letting legislators know that the regulations are not reasonable; that they are actually hurting, not helping, health care.”

Dr. Tynus also plans to continue the CMS legacy of advocating for public health initiatives. She has always been strongly committed to public health and community service. During her career she has volunteered at numerous health fairs and lectured to community groups on hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, and osteoarthritis. She also recently volunteered at Chicago’s CommunityHealth free medical clinic, and as a science fair judge at St. Francis of Rome Elementary School.

“Chicago has big problems with violence and homelessness,” she says. “As a medical society, we need to look at the broader needs of the community. What problems can we have a positive impact on? What resources or partnerships do we have that we can leverage?”

As an example, she cites the relationship that CMS has in place with the American Heart Association through Project SMILE. “Thanks to Dr. Vemuri Murthy and Project SMILE, which trains the public to provide bystander hands-only CPR, we have forged a relationship with the American Heart Association. I’m looking forward to collaborating with them on ways to improve the cardiovascular health of Chicagoans.”

Membership recruitment and retention are also a high priority for Dr. Tynus. She plans to reach out to hospital medical staffs, medical groups, ethnic medical societies, residents and medical students. “I want to keep the membership engaged by enhancing the work of our committees,” she says. “I also plan to poll our members and non-members to find out what is important to them—and then meet those needs.”

She also plans to hold more events tailored to medical students and residents. “They are truly the future of our medical society and our profession,” she says. “We need to find ways to decrease the financial burden of medical school and increase access to mentorship through our medical society.  If we can speak to the needs of students and residents, we will be more successful in recruiting and retaining them through their training and beyond.”

No doubt, it will be a busy year for Dr. Tynus with her presidency, her regular workload and her family. The mother of two teenagers—16-year-old Sofia and 13-year-old Tony—she has a passion for music and frequently travels to music festivals. In fact, it was at Lollapalooza that she met her long-term partner John Culver. She also ran her first marathon this year but won’t divulge her time. When asked if she’ll run the next one faster she laughingly says, “I don’t really think I’ll have time to train that hard this year!”

Most important, however, Dr. Tynus wants members to know that she has an open door when it comes to listening to their needs and concerns. “I look forward to a busy, fun and productive year,” she says. “Please feel free to contact me and let me know what you think, good or bad. It’s our medical society and we all have a voice and a role to play.”

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