More Than A Physician – Q&A with Dr. Frisch for Doctors’ Day

By Ferriss Roberts and Krista Gregg

Dr. Frisch Hiking in Western North CarolinaArmy veteran. Orthopedic trauma physician. Asheville Men’s Lacrosse player. Michael Frisch, MD, Chief of Staff at Mission Hospital has weaved his way into the Asheville community as a friendly face since joining Mission Health almost 12 years ago. This Doctors’ Day, we wanted to learn more about his aspirations and journey to Mission Health, and answer two very important questions: What exactly is Chief of Staff at Mission Hospital? What should our community here in western North Carolina know about their family of caring doctors at Mission Health?

Hi, Dr. Frisch! Where are you from? How did you get to the Asheville area?

I’m from Annapolis, Maryland. I had vacationed in the Asheville area when I was in the Army and loved the area. When I got out of the Army, a friend of mine who I had trained with was working in Asheville and recruited me.

Tell us about being a doctor and your role as Chief of Staff at Mission Hospital.

I think the Chief of Staff has two basic roles: First, to ensure quality and safety for our patients through our Medical Staff Office by credentialing, peer review and providing clinical perspective as our policies and procedures our developed. Second, to act as a communicator and intermediary both amongst or medical staff and between our medical staff, other providers and hospital administration.

Did you always want to be a doctor? How did you end up where you are today?

No, I think I first wanted to be a doctor after my high school biology class. I had a really good teacher who got me interested in biology. Once I started my medical training, I don’t think I ever got the position I really wanted but it always worked out, mainly because I was fortunate to have several great mentors at each step who really guided me to where I am now.

What do you love most about your job?

Parallel to my role as Chief of Staff at Mission Hospital, I am a physician for orthopedic trauma. I like to say my patients aren’t sick (at least my part of their care) – they are just a little broken in some areas and I get to fix them. Orthopedic trauma is very hands on, and the injuries are all a little different. I love the puzzle of putting something back together. And most importantly, I love the satisfaction of getting someone back to doing what they used to do after an injury.

For as long as you’ve been a doctor, what is the most memorable moment or event from your career?

By far the most memorable and shaping event of my career was being the Director of Orthopedic Trauma at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 2004-2007 taking care of extremity war injuries. It was an honor, privilege and inspiration to care for our injured service members.

What should our community know about doctors at Mission Health?

I think people are often surprised at the level of training and specialization of our physicians. When I first started sitting on the credentials committee, it was really eye opening to see the credentials of our physicians.

What is something our providers have worked on or achieved recently that is really significant in the world of patient care?

I think the most significant achievement of our physicians, nurses and team members across all of Mission Health is our hospitals consistently being rated as some of the best in terms of quality and safety year after year.

How do your doctor colleagues at Mission Health inspire you?

First, in their dedication to their patients, and also their dedication to each other and making this a great medical community.

Do you have a motto/mantra or philosophy that guides your work/approach to caring for patients?

I think personally I have always thought that “self reflection” is important. How could I have done that better? What did I learn from that patient that will help me take care of the next patient?

I’m a huge fan of General Stanley McChrystal and his book Team of Teams. So much of that book applies to our care of patients. I particularly like one of his mottos, “Credibility = Proven Competence + Integrity + Relationships.”

Enough talk about business! How do you enjoy spending your free time?

Hiking with my wife and family. My other passion is lacrosse. I play on the Asheville Men’s Club team and help coach one of the local high school teams.

What’s your favorite restaurant or thing to do in Asheville/WNC?

Limones but really, it’s hard to just choose one. I am also a sucker for BBQ and am always looking to try a place I haven’t been to. I also love just getting together with friends for a beer at one of Asheville’s breweries.

What song or band/artist are you really into right now?

My favorite genre is Irish Punk, like Dropkick Murphy.

Thank you, Dr. Frisch – happy Doctors’ Day to you and all of your colleagues here at Mission Health. Thank you for the ways you care for our neighbors and improve lives here in western North Carolina.

Michael Frisch, MD, is the Chief of Staff at Mission Hospital and an orthopedic trauma physician.