David E. Keith’s PA career spans 40 years of clinical practice and education in the areas of Surgery, Trauma, and Critical Care Medicine. During this time, he contributed to the education and mentoring of PA and physician trainees and the continuing education of graduate physician assistants pursuing specialized training in surgery and critical care. He has co-authored papers on assessing preparation for PAs’ roles and goals on their career paths. Mr. Keith has co-authored chapters on orientation programs for advance practice providers and introducing alternative staffing models into the ICU setting. Mr. Keith has been honored with recognition awards for organizational vision, dedication to performance and excellence in patient care, commitment to PA education and training, and overall contribution to the PA profession.
Mr. Keith was born and raised in Coatesville, PA in 1947. After completing high school, he matriculated into Villanova University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1969. He started his graduate studies at Villanova but was called to service in the US Army in 1970. He served for three years as a Medic and Medical Lab Tech.
With an Honorable discharge in 1973, Mr. Keith returned home and worked as an Emergency Room Tech at the Coatesville Hospital. While formulating a career plan, he learned about the physician assistant profession. Mr. Keith entered the MEDEX Physician Assistant program offered through the Penn State/Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1976 and graduated in 1978.
In August of 1978, he entered the Montefiore Medical Center Postgraduate Surgical Residency Program for Physician Assistants founded and established by Drs. Marvin Gliedman and Richard Rosen and directed by PA Clara Vanderbilt. From November 1978 into 1981, Mr. Keith rotated on services at the Montefiore and Weiler/Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) hospitals and their affiliated Jacobi and North Central Bronx hospitals.
From 1981 to 2003, Mr. Keith worked full-time at Montefiore with both clinical and teaching responsibilities within the PA Residency program. In 1988, Dr. Gliedman designated Mr. Keith the Chief PA in the Surgical ICU with responsibilities for building and maintaining a team of PAs to provide 24 hour/7 days a week coverage. Over the next 15 years, with the help of the PA team, he established ICU rotations for the Surgical PA residents, elective rotations for PA students interested in Critical Care, and shadowing opportunities for those seeking admission to entry-level PA programs.
From 1983 to 2002, Mr. Keith coordinated the Advanced Trauma Life Support Course directed by Dr. Arnold Berlin. From 1986 to 1991, he organized and managed a new PA per diem team to cover night and weekend shifts in the Adult Surgical ER of Jacobi Hospital, a very busy Level 1 Trauma Center in the Bronx.
In 2003, Mr. Keith moved from Montefiore to Beth Israel Medical Center, the Manhattan University Hospital for AECOM, to join Dr. Marvin McMillen. His responsibilities again included establishing a PA team and integrating them with the surgical residents to cover the Surgical ICU and floors.
In 2008, Mr. Keith returned to Montefiore Medical Center to the Division of Critical Care Medicine under the Directorship of Dr. Vladimir Kvetan. In this role he provided clinical services in the Surgical ICUs and, in 2009, founded and directed the Montefiore Critical Care Postgraduate Physician Assistant Residency Program. After 5 years, he retired from Montefiore in December of 2014 following his solid mentorship to upcoming PAs to continue the successful residency.
Approximately one week after retiring, Mr. Keith was recalled to active employment at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, MA, and rejoined Dr. Marvin McMillen to rebuild a struggling physician surgical residency program and optimize patient care by hiring, training, and integrating a team of PAs into a clinical practice setting that was unaccustomed to the PA role. He continued this effort in early 2015 as the Chief Surgical PA of Education and Quality. Over the next 4 years, with the help of the PA team he had established, the Surgical Residency Program was restored, and with PAs functioning as part of an integrated surgical team. In late 2018, Mr. Keith retired.
Acknowledgments: This Biographical Sketch was prepared by Nathan Boucher and David Keith. It was submitted to the Society in January 2022. Photographs are courtesy of Mr. Keith.