Dr. William Hayden, emergency medicine physician and associate professor of clinical medicine at American University of the Caribbean School (AUC) was almost Father Bill Hayden. A philosophy major with experience in the Teacher Corps, Hayden went to seminary after finishing high school and began studying to become a priest.  His ambitions changed, however, after he visited hospitals in Baltimore and Louisville, KY as part of his seminary education. Working with the patients, assisting nurses, and viewing surgeries, he said, revealed that medicine was his calling.

The ambitious career change required that he take science prerequisites at night for several years, while teaching at a junior high school in Detroit. Ultimately, he was accepted to the University of Michigan Medical School. Despite this apparent turnabout in his career, Hayden’s commitment to human rights remained a theme throughout his professional life. 

“In the emergency department you treat all kinds of people, from those who come in intoxicated to those wanting drugs to those who are belligerent.” says Hayden. “It is important to treat people with dignity and respect and do what is in their best interest no matter what.”

Hayden, who is also the director of AUC’s Harvey Cardiac Simulator Lab, often acts as an advocate for his patients. He adds that because emergency medicine physicians don’t have admission privileges, they frequently have to make a case for their patients to be admitted to the hospital. “I have to persuade attending physicians to see my point of view, and if that doesn’t work, I have to convince them to come to the emergency department so that they can make an informed decision.”

Good doctor-patient communication is another guiding principle for Hayden. “You have a short time to interact with the patient,” he says. “If the person perceives that you are not listening, it can impair the relationship and expose you to malpractice.”

Hayden began his career in family medicine but decided to pursue a career in emergency medicine for a number of reasons. After several years in private practice he discovered that he was more passionate about treating patients than running a business. At the same time, emergency medicine was a growing specialty, and he thrived on working in a fast-paced environment and being part of a team. He completed his emergency medicine residency at Christ Medical Center in Chicago, Il and spent the next 26 years working in a wide range of hospital settings.

Hayden, who also has a doctorate in education, joined the AUC faculty two-and-a-half years ago. He says that he is delighted with this new phase of his career.

“I’ve always enjoyed teaching. One of my greatest satisfactions is to see the transformation in a student from early days of training to the time they leave medical school.”

Hayden adds that he is particularly inspired by the AUC alumni who come back to serve as role models. “To have these students come back and welcome them as colleagues is an honor.”


Tiara Brewster

Posted June 29, 2015 08:30 AM

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