Matthew Meriweather, MD, Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Matthew Meriweather’s positive experiences with his residency and fellowship at Vanderbilt (you can read his resident profile here) made it a natural choice to stay on as a member of faculty. As a hospitalist, Dr. Meriweather appreciates the acuity of cases he encounters, as well as the regular engagement with residents. In his time off, he enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, going to concerts, and staying active at Orange Theory Fitness.

How are you settling into your new role on faculty following your years of training here at Vanderbilt?

Staying at the same place where I did my training made the transition to faculty very smooth. Though I’m in a new role, it’s nice not to have to learn a whole new system. I’m still able to call on my attendings from residency when I want a second opinion on cases, which has made it that much easier. 

How has life changed since residency?

My job now is all inpatient, and no clinic. So much like residency, I'm still in the hospital and I take home calls. So the schedule is still busy, but I do like having the weeks off in between [long shifts]. When I’m on call, it doesn't always feel that different from residency, but it’s nice having blocks of time when I’m off. The schedule has certainly been better in terms of balancing things. I’m able to be at home more and travel to visit family more. 

What are some of the biggest challenges in your current job as a hospitalist? 

For the first year, the biggest challenge has been transitioning into the role of being the final opinion on a case. As a resident or fellow, even when I knew what to do, I still had someone else as a backup and final decision maker. Transitioning into being that person took some getting used to, but I pretty quickly felt comfortable in that role, which is a testament to my training. Another thing that’s different is that I get direct communication from other departments. I’m having more detailed conversations with other teams. It’s more responsibility, and now I feel comfortable with it, but that’s not something I realized went on in the background as a resident. 

What are some of the rewards of the job?

The acuity of cases attracts me to this role. I am seeing people at their “sickest” and hopefully comforting them during that time. Most of the time we can really help those patients. I like the pace of the role. I like seeing people in the ER, making acute stroke decisions, and taking on cases sometimes from hours away. I enjoy helping people figure out what’s going on and hopefully treating that problem.

I also enjoy the focus on education. Our group of hospitalists are interfacing with residents all the time that I’m in the hospital. 

Who have been some of your most influential mentors along the way?

Anyone I worked with during my training has made a positive impact. Having such a big group here at Vanderbilt is nice; I can take different pieces of wisdom from different people I've worked with to incorporate those pieces into who I am as a doctor. One of my biggest mentors has been Karl Misulis. He helped start the hospitalist program here. He is a workhorse for sure! He even picks up shifts when people are out. He was available to me through my entire training and even now he’s somebody who’s always there to help. That is something I’ve tried to pick up for myself. 

Derek Riebau and Eli Zimmerman were other important mentors during my stroke fellowship. Derek is the stroke center director—he taught me a lot about how to have difficult conversations with families and the business and legal side of being a physician. Eli played a big role in terms of fostering my interest in education and being a good colleague. He’s someone who’s there not only for professional assistance, but also for being a friend and being someone to talk to when we’re dealing with some of the stresses we face as doctors. 

What were some of the special qualities about Vanderbilt that made you want to stay after your training?

Interacting with trainees and being part of their education and growth is something I knew would be part of this role, and something I knew would be rewarding, so that was one of the reasons I wanted to stay.

What does a typical block of time off look like for you? 

I spend about fifty percent of weekends in the hospital. I typically spend time off trying to recharge, or catch up on chores. My wife is an OB/GYN at St. Thomas. I use time off to catch up on time with her and our dog. I enjoy housework and yard work, so I’m always looking for projects there and catching up on those. My wife and I both enjoy going to Orange Theory Fitness when we’re off work. We spend time traveling to visit our families. Most of my family is in Ohio; her family is in West Virginia. So I use those blocks of time off to keep up with life and make sure I have a good work/life balance. 

What are some of your interests or hobbies? 

My wife and I try to find concerts to go to; we enjoy music, whether its local artists or touring concerts.