Pittsburgh Business Times: 20 People to Know in Health Care: Amy Bunger, St. Clair Health

The 20 People to Know in Health Care includes Q&As with 20 health care and life science executives and educators who work at local health systems, biotech companies, insurers, universities and health care-focused nonprofits.

Amy Bunger, vice president and chief academic officer, designated institutional official, St. Clair Health

One of Amy Bunger’s roles at St. Clair Health is to be a liaison with regional universities looking for clinical opportunities, a job that is expanding as St. Clair Health prepares to add medical students from Duquesne University’s new College of Osteopathic Medicine, which will receive its first class in 2024 and produce students ready to do medical internships at St. Clair in 2026. “From interviewing prospective students who’ve found their passion and promise in medicine to preparing our facilities and faculty to receive the physicians of our future,” she said she is excited about this new opportunity. That is part of her work deepening St. Clair’s presence as a teaching hospital and preparing to serve as a sponsoring institution, which grants St. Clair the ability to train new medical school graduates during their residencies. Bunger came to St. Clair in 2021 from University Hospitals in Cleveland and has a doctorate degree in public policy.

As a health care executive in Pittsburgh, what worries keep you up at night?
I worry whether western Pennsylvania will have the supply of health care professionals to allow people to access care close to home. Nationally, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2032, including a forecasted shortage of up to 48,000 physicians in the primary care sector. Pennsylvania in particular retains fewer newly trained physicians who train in the state. By 2026, Pennsylvania will lead the nation in nursing shortage — at a deficit of more than 20,000.

How are you addressing the issue of health care worker burnout?
It is critically important that we see this historical moment as an opportunity to do things differently. We need to learn how to better support and manage expectations for our clinical workforce over the course of their career.

What does a chief academic officer do at St. Clair Health?
My role has a focus on learning in the clinical environment, whether you are a student at a regional partner institution, an employee continuing to further your role and education, or one of our outstanding clinicians who want to continue their development. This can involve innovative practice with our DUQCOM or Mayo Clinic Care Network partnerships, piloting different strategies to convert learners to employees, reimagining what educating our training physician workforce can look like and practicing introspection on what we can do to help foster a sense of inclusion and belonging for our students who will serve as the next generation of our workforce.

What is your favorite restaurant within 10 minutes of your workplace?
Café IO has been a welcoming home away from home, which was important in trying to acclimate to a new city during pandemic times.