Robert Shor, MD, FACC: Medicine, the Moon and Dinosaurs
Get to Know Your Leaders | “I don’t remember exactly when it began, but it was very early on that I knew I wanted to go into medicine,” said ACC’s Board of Governors (BOG) Chair Robert Shor, MD, FACC, who took the helm of the College’s grassroots governing body during convocation at ACC.15 in San Diego, CA. “Although, back then I wanted to be a doctor on the moon caring for people and dinosaurs,” said Shor.
While Shor did not end up fulfilling his fantastical, youthful dream of becoming a lunar astronaut-paleontologist-physician, he did follow the pull toward medicine that existed from childhood. “I found the human body fascinating and have constantly been amazed by its complexity, by how all the parts usually work together, by how the body adapts,” said Shor. When it came time to select a specialty, it was the field of cardiology’s duality that most interested him. “I have always been intrigued by the functioning of the heart. Its simplicity and complexity,” he said. “For me, cardiology offers the perfect balance of intellectual stimulation and the opportunity to intervene.”
Shor grew up in Mount Vernon, NY, and went on to Trinity College in Hartford, CT, for an undergraduate education in biology. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and completed his internship, residency and fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He has been in practice since 1989 and has a special interest in primary and secondary prevention and risk factor modification, in addition to general and invasive cardiology. Now, a partner at Virginia Heart serving much of Northern Virginia, Shor has been an active member of the College for many years, serving as president of the ACC’s Virginia Chapter, following turns as councilman and then treasurer. He has also been chair of the Virginia Chapter’s Advocacy Committee and has represented the College on the Hill and at congressional events, advancing the concerns of cardiologists.
His first foray into ACC leadership began years ago when then-Virginia Chapter Governor C. Michael Valentine, MD, FACC, with whom Shor had trained in the 1980s in Atlanta, approached him to serve as a chapter councilor for Northern Virginia. “I had not really thought much about getting involved as I was so immersed in practice at the time,” said Shor. “The more I participated, the more I realized the value of the ACC and had a desire to get more involved. I took on additional roles and responsibilities until I was elected governor in 2010 for the 2012-2015 cycle.”
Now, as chair of the BOG, Shor leads 66 Chapter governors representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and the U.S. Uniformed Services.
During his year as chair, Shor’s mantra is to improve and promote ACC member value and engagement. This aligns with the College’s five-year Strategic Plan which holds member value and engagement as a primary building block of the College’s foundation and key to its future success. This year, Shor plans to focus on enhancing bi-directional communication from ACC membership to the BOG and then on to ACC Leadership. Additionally, he plans to promote quality projects across state lines, to advocate for ACC membership to allow the entire cardiovascular team to care for patients, and to promote Chapter best practices.
Shor views ACC’s Chapters as an essential part of the College. “Chapters are a key instrument on behalf of and for the membership,” said Shor. “Not only can Chapters help communicate and implement the Strategic Plan and mission of the ACC to its members, but they can be active participants in enhancing bi-directional communication, advocating on behalf of patients and ACC membership, and promoting quality initiatives throughout all Chapters.” It is this belief in the pivotal importance of ACC Chapters that makes Shor excited to spread the word to members that are not fully invested in their local Chapters. “There is much to do to help create the future of medicine, health care delivery and cardiology practice we want,” he said. “How can anyone stand by and let others make these decisions for you? How can we be passive?” He urges ACC members to get involved. “Otherwise we run the risk of being run over by the train, rather than driving the train or picking the track we travel on,” he said.
The new health care landscape is certainly on Shor’s mind and is one of the reasons he is so passionate about encouraging Chapter involvement. When picturing the future of cardiology, Shor envisions both new challenges and new opportunities. “I can see the positives of determining and implementing the most appropriate integrated delivery systems and reimbursement strategies possible,” he said. “But I also envision new challenges of practices as integrated entities, as employee physicians not in control of day-to-day operations and practice decision making.” He adds that the “firing of physicians as employees will pose new stresses on medicine.”
Outside of the world of cardiology and medicine, away from grassroots movements, and looking into crystal balls predicting the future of the field, Shor spends his free time with family and friends. He and his wife, Gail, have been married for nearly 35 years and have three children, Rachel (a PhD student in clinical psychology at George Mason University), Joel (an engineer at Google in San Francisco), and Jake (an undergraduate student at The College of William and Mary studying computer science). Shor is particularly active and enjoys cycling, exercising, golfing and hiking, as well as reading. He is still fascinated by both the moon and dinosaurs.
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