Julie Ann Freischlag, M.D., FACS, FRCS, Ed(hon), DFSVS, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Health and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine, has been named one of the Physician Leaders to Know by Becker’s Hospital Review, a national health care media organization based in Chicago.
One-hundred five health care executives were recognized this year. Freischlag is one of 17 female executives to make the list and the only woman executive to serve in both roles as CEO of a clinical health care system and dean of a medical school, basic science and clinical research programs.
Becker’s lauded this year’s individuals for their outstanding leadership and clinical expertise throughout their careers, for their service on community boards and national organizations and for clinical accomplishments that provided unique insight into health care.
Freischlag has helped to drive change in academic medicine with a deep commitment to diversity and inclusion. For more than 15 years, she has led education and training programs at top medical schools in her role as professor and chair of surgery and vascular surgery departments. Freischlag also has more than 30 years of experience leading patient-care services as chief of surgery or vascular surgery at nationally ranked hospitals. She served as professor, chair of the surgery department and surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. She led initiatives to expand research, add specialty clinical services, improve patient-centered care and patient safety, redesign the surgical training program and enhance academic career paths for faculty.
Her national leadership includes serving as a former governor and secretary of the Board of Governors and a regent and past chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons. She is the past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the Society for Vascular Surgery Foundation, and past president of the Association of VA Surgeons and the Society of Surgical Chairs. Freischlag was the editor of JAMA Surgery for ten years (2005-2014) and is a member of the editorial boards of the Annals of Vascular Surgery, Journal of the American College of Surgeons, British Journal of Surgery and the JAMA editorial board in 2020.
She has published more than 300 manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters, primarily addressing the treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms, carotid artery disease and peripheral vascular disease utilizing outcome data and clinical trials; additionally, she has published on burnout and work-life balance.
Freischlag is an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome which can require a specialized surgical procedure, and in clinical research. She is national co-principal investigator of the OVER (Open Versus EndovasculaR Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms) study. In April 2019, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reported the 15-year results of the OVER study, which demonstrated durability of the endovascular graft when patients are appropriately selected.
Freischlag has received numerous teaching awards, an achievement award from the Department of Veterans Affairs and was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine in 2015. She has mentored students, residents and young faculty and is a frequent speaker on topics ranging from her expertise in vascular diseases, teamwork and patient safety, leadership and work-life balance to women succeeding in health professions. Freischlag has dedicated her career to serving as a role model for her students, a respected colleague across health professions, a strong community leader and a national voice for improving health and health care.
Currently, Freischlag serves on the executive board of Association of Academic Health Centers, Aga Khan University Board of Trustees and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Board of Visitors, University of Illinois Health Advisory Council, and the administrative board of the Council of Deans of the Association of American Colleges.
She also serves on the Trauma and Injury Subcommittee of the Defense Health Board and The Changing Workforce Task Force of the American Hospital Association. She has served as chair of the 2018 Winston-Salem Heart and Stroke Walk, the 2018 and 2019 March for Babies Walk in Winston-Salem and was chair of the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Capital Campaign.
The Physician Leaders to Know list has been published by Becker’s since 2012.