UNC Department of Anesthesiology congratulates Associate Residency Program Director and Professor of Anesthesiology Robert Isaak, DO, DABA, FASA, for being named Vice Chair of Education, effective January 1, 2023. Nationwide, Dr. Isaak joins peers in his field who have been recognized as transformative thinkers and collaborators in anesthesiology medical education. In 2020, the Society for Education in Anesthesiology recognized Dr. Isaak’s impact on anesthesiology education through honoring him with the Distinguished Educator in Anesthesiology Award.
Dr. Isaak stands alongside UNC School of Medicine faculty who have been repeatedly recognized for demonstrating exceptional leadership in education. Accordingly, he has earned a range of departmental and institutional honors, including: 1) UNC School of Medicine (SOM) Academy of Educators Innovation in Education Award; 2) UNC Provost’s Junior Faculty Development Award; 3) UNC Anesthesiology Resident Education Faculty Honor Roll; and 4) UNC Anesthesiology Teaching Excellence Faculty Teaching Award.
As a member of the UNC Anesthesiology’s Residency Program Directors leadership team (2017-Present), Dr. Isaak’s innovation in education has reinforced the Department’s strength in graduating highly competent residents ready for independent practice. One area in which Dr. Isaak has advanced residency education has been in developing new standards of graduate medical education assessment. At UNC Medical Center, he developed and validated a structured framework of assessing learner clinical competence — Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) — via diagnostic scenarios and task performance at rotating stations. The successful implementation of this approach to testing clinical competence at UNC leveraged Dr. Isaak’s appointment as Chair of the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA)’s OSCE Committee (2019).
At UNC School of Medicine (SOM), Dr. Isaak has additionally pioneered standardizing simulation in anesthesiology education. Advancing simulation as a resident teaching modality earned Dr. Isaak the Department’s Faculty Teaching Award for Innovation in Simulation Education (2016). He serves as Director of UNC Anesthesiology Simulation Program and presents nationwide on simulation-focused topics such as its effectiveness for assessing ACGME milestone competencies and in preparing for OSCE exams.
Over 10+ years on faculty, Dr. Isaak’s strides as a provider and researcher have paralleled his accomplishments as an educator. At UNC Medical Center, he serves on the UNC Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Executive Council (2018-Present). As the Department’s Division Chief of Liver Transplant/Vascular Anesthesia, Dr. Isaak’s expertise in this area extends to the institution (UNC Hospitals Liver Transplant Patient Selection Committee) and the field (Society for the Advancement of Transplant Anesthesia – Abdominal Education Committee Member). His related clinical research interests focus on quality improvement in perioperative medicine, and he has twice been named one of the Department’s Outstanding Clinician-Research Faculty (2018, 2019).
Dr. Isaak noted: “In addition to being one of the top academic anesthesiology departments in the country, ours is a large group with a diverse array of learners and clinical experiences. Regardless of whether you are an administrative support person, anesthesia tech, attending anesthesiologist, CRNA, medical student, resident/fellow, or anyone else in our department, my goal is to ensure you are provided access to educational opportunities that will advance your knowledge and career.”
UNC Anesthesiology Chair Dr. David Zvara noted: “Dr. Isaak presented a compelling vision for the educational needs of the entire department and anesthesiology education for our relevant institutional colleagues. As Vice Chair of Education, he will be responsible for coordinating our educational needs into manageable, exceptional and vision-guided programs. He is uniquely gifted for this role.”