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Amanda Michael, D.O., Named Top Physician Under 40 by Pennsylvania Medical Society
By Nancy Kennedy

Amanda MichaelThe Pennsylvania Medical Society has named Amanda Michael, D.O., as a Top Physician under 40. Dr. Michael is a board-certified infectious disease specialist and bacteriologist who practices with Pittsburgh Infectious Diseases, Ltd., and serves as Medical Director of the Antibiotic Stewardship Committee at St. Clair Hospital. She is one of 40 young Pennsylvania physicians chosen to be honored for their outstanding contributions to patient care and their communities. The Pennsylvania Medical Society accepted nominations from county medical societies throughout the state, as well as from individual members and patients.

“I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had been chosen for this award,” says Dr. Michael. “It’s a huge honor to represent the under 40 age category of physicians in our state. There are so many dedicated colleagues who are caring for their communities and who are always looking to push themselves further toward excellence; to be a reflection on this large group is very humbling.” 

“Dr. Amanda Michael is a very talented and committed professional with specific expertise in infectious disease and is emblematic of the well-trained and highly qualified young physicians that we have been lucky to consistently recruit to St. Clair,” says John T. Sullivan, M.D., M.B.A., Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at St. Clair Hospital. “We recognize that the young members of our medical staff represent the future of care delivery in our institution and we invest a great deal of energy identifying and recruiting them.”

Antibiotic Stewardship is Everybody’s Job
Bacteria that cause infections are increasingly developing resistance to antibiotics. Instead of being eradicated by the antibiotic, these bacteria fight back by growing and multiplying, potentially making the infected person even sicker. Antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are hard to treat and are becoming a serious threat to public health in the U.S. and around the world.

The appropriate use of antibiotics, sometimes called antibiotic stewardship, is essential to maintaining the effectiveness of antibiotics and preventing the development of antibiotic-resistant infections. Many hospitals now have guidelines in place to achieve this, but the public plays an important role, too.

In a statement released by the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Dr. Michael is cited for her excellent work in promoting the appropriate use of antibiotics. “Dr. Michael is an ‘antimicrobial steward’ who looks to promote coordinated interventions designed to improve and measure the appropriate use of antimicrobials at the hospitals she attends as well as in outpatient settings,” the statement reads. “She has special interests in the treatment of HIV and hepatitis C and the administration of adult vaccines for vaccine-preventable diseases.” 

Dr. Michael describes the use of antibiotics as a balancing act. “We never take the administration of antibiotics lightly; there is a significant downside to getting antibiotics that you don’t need. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics has resulted in antibiotic resistance, meaning that illnesses that were once easily treatable are now far more challenging.”

The viruses HIV and hepatitis C are a major interest for Dr. Michael, and she advocates compellingly for screening and early treatment. “One of the most important things to know about both HIV and hepatitis C is that often you feel well for a long time after you've been infected. We have been trying to get everyone between the ages of 13-65 years old screened at least once in their life for HIV, as recommended by the CDC (or more frequently if you’re at higher risk). People on medication for HIV do extremely well in general and have long and healthy lives; the key is to recognize that you’ve been infected and to get started on medication as soon as possible. The medication is well tolerated. 

“For hepatitis C, the CDC currently recommends screening for everyone born between the years 1945 and 1965, plus those who have had sexual partners with hepatitis C, or who have been exposed to blood infected with hepatitis C. I expect that this will be eventually expanded to include more age groups. Many people don't know that hepatitis C can be sexually and maternally transmitted. The treatment for hepatitis C at this point is also well-tolerated and very effective at curing the virus altogether. Treatment can decrease your likelihood of getting liver cancer from the hepatitis C virus.

“For both of these viruses, getting treatment early is so helpful. It’s essential to ignore the old social judgements about them, which are thankfully beginning to dissipate: they are viruses, just like any other virus, and some people happen to have been exposed to them and some have not been exposed. We’re all a part of public health, and public health serves us best when we all educate ourselves and take care of ourselves and our loved ones.”
That includes getting recommended vaccinations. Dr. Michael encourages everyone to protect themselves from vaccine-preventable diseases by taking a pragmatic approach. “As we come in to flu season I encourage everyone to get their influenza vaccine. Any protection that you can achieve from the vaccine is helpful. Getting vaccinated is about protecting your own health, plus the health of your family, co-workers, and vulnerable members of your community,” she says.

To contact Dr. Michael, call (412) 347-0057 or visit the web site www.stclair.org

The Top Physician under 40 award program was initiated by the Pennsylvania Medical Society in 2016 to encourage young physicians to make a name for themselves, and to encourage them to remain in practice in Pennsylvania.

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