Name: Mark Backeris DO, MBA
Tell me about yourself?
About your job: I am an Anesthesiologist, and Medical Director of Surgical Services for Washington Health System. I’ve been working for nearly 7 years as an Anesthesiologist, and 5 years as a Medical Director.
- North Allegheny Senior High School 1999
- Duquesne University 2003
- St Joseph’s University 2007
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine 2009
- University of Pittsburgh, Anesthesia Residency 2013
Hobbies outside of work: High Performance Driving, Gravel and Mountain Biking, Downhill Skiing, Cooking
Family, pets, etc? My family consists of my beautiful wife of nearly 7 years, Caitlin, and our two amazingly adorable daughters, Marika, 2.5-years-old, and Iliana, 4-weeks-old. Also my mom (Karen) and dad (Van).
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
One of my mentors in residency, Dr. Patrick Forte, told our new anesthesia class “The people that have had the most success around here didn’t spend time worrying about what everybody else was up to.” He had seen all too many get caught up in the little things, like who got the chance to do the most exciting cases, who got to go home first, or who ended up having to work what holiday, to their detriment. His point was that if you spend too much time focusing on the good hands that others are being dealt, you could lose sight of your own blessings and end up not being able to make the most of them.
What would be your ideal way to spend a weekend?
As much as I love spending time with our children, I would gladly send them off to have a fun filled weekend with their grandparents for a chance to spend one-on-one time with my amazing wife, Caitlin. Where we go or what we do isn’t as important as just being able to be with her, just her. Although, chances are good that a live show of one of our favorite bands would be included.
Why did you decide to do the work you do now?
I inherited my interest in Anesthesia from my mother, Karen. Initially, it was probably the draw of her awesome neon yellow markers! From time to time I’d creep out of bed at night, and she’d let me sit by her side and highlight with those markers while she studied to become a Nurse Anesthetist. It wasn’t really just the markers though. My mom has always been one to care for and help others, and I was definitely fortunate enough to take after her in that regard. After I grew up, and fostered my interests in people, physiology, and medicine, I found myself with the desire to shepherd people through stressful and vulnerable times as only Anesthesia could.
I was also heavily influenced by my father, Van, who had his own successful sales and consulting business. He taught me to find ways to offer more, the importance of strong communication, and always showed me what it meant to be a leader. It was from this example that I pursued my MBA during medical school. As a result, I found myself prepared enough to become the Medical Director of Surgical Services at Washington Health System a couple of years into practice. Now I am fortunate enough to work with an amazing team of administrators, directors, and managers, all striving together to find ways for WHS to offer more to the community.
What could you give a half-hour presentation on without any preparation?
Well I suppose I could bore any number of people with numerous medical, nutritional, or anesthesia related topics, but I’m tired of watching people fall asleep when I talk to them! So instead, let me tell you all of the exciting details about driving a car fast around a race track! First, what you have to do is make sure you have your brake fluid flushed. As you are well aware, brake fluid is hygroscopic, making its boiling temperature… 3 hours later… so, finally you can carefully tighten back the bleeder valves and, oh no, I’ve done it again! Terribly sorry.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Nothing makes me more proud than being able to call Caitlin Rae Backeris my wife. She’s incredible in every way, loving, warm, beautiful, talented, and most of all driven. We balance each other out and I know we’d be lost without each other. If there is one thing that I can teach my girls, it will be that the most important decision you can make is who you choose to spend your time with. I couldn’t imagine spending my time with anyone else.
What do you want people to know about the Covid-19 pandemic.
I want people to know that we will get past it. It might be hard to believe that right now as we lose loved ones, our health, our jobs, and even just some of our favorite things to do. However, we are strong, and our world has faced greater threats than this, even if it’s hard to see that right now. We must stand together to get through this. That means listening to our medical professionals as well as state and local governments. Follow the social distancing guidelines set for us and patiently wait for when it is safe for us to begin to get back the pieces of our lives that we miss so much right now. We are only as strong as the weakest among us; I have faith that makes us very strong indeed.