MAYWOOD, Ill. - From childhood, Keith Muccino, SJ, MD, had no interest in excelling in only one profession.
He recalls his father asking, '"Wouldn't you like to just concentrate on being good at one thing?'"
Muccino vividly recalls his own reply, "'You know, Dad, I don't think that's me. I feel like I am capable of doing a number of things in life and I think that's what I should do.'"
He has been true to his word. At age 55, when most people are blissfully contemplating retirement, Muccino is blissfully immersed in the latest stage of a career path that has seen him recently named assistant dean of education at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.
He is among only a handful of Jesuit priests in the U.S. who are practicing physicians. Dr. Muccino is board certified in both internal medicine and emergency medicine, and at Stritch School of Medicine is an assistant professor of general internal medicine; director of continuing medical education; and associate director of the Clinical Skills Center.
"My father and brother, whom I love dearly, were both engineers," Muccino said. "As much as I admired them for who they were, I knew with absolute certainty that I was not going to become the third engineer in our family. I was much more eclectic in my attractions and energies."
In his role as assistant dean of education, Muccino has just completed a revamping of the school's student advisor program, making it more "user friendly" for students and faculty alike.
"He's been working with us for a while now," said Myles Sheehan, SJ, MD, senior associate dean, education program, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "He's shown great leadership in building our simulation center in cooperation with the Clinical Skills Center. He's done great work in revising the student advisor program and working with students as a teacher and helping them sort out their career choices."
A native of Waterbury, Conn., Muccino's roots at Loyola run deep. He received his medical degree from Stritch School of Medicine in 1977. "It was a three-year program at that time," Muccino recalls of his medical school experience.
"When I left Loyola, I was torn between doing internal medicine and emergency medicine. I ended up getting board certified in both and I have practiced both in my lifetime," Muccino said.
Before returning to work at his alma mater, Muccino served at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C., where he was an assistant professor of medicine, in the division of general internal medicine. He was assigned to Georgetown University after being ordained a Roman Catholic priest in the Society of Jesus in 1996.
"In addition to my patient practice, I taught in the medical school and developed a curriculum on faith and medicine," Muccino said. "I directed a course called Religious Traditions in Health Care. We taught students about religious issues and practices that patients wish to share with their physician but are often hesitant to do so. We trained students to make a connection with their patients' religion or spirituality. I had faculty who taught Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism and each of them addressed the relevance of religion within the physician-patient relationship."
During the time of Jesuit training that preceded his assignment at Georgetown University, Dr. Muccino served as a part-time emergency physician at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston and at St. Joseph's Hospital in Reading, Pa.
From 1982 to 1988, he was a full-time emergency physician at York Hospital in York, Pa. It was during this time that Dr. Muccino experienced his call to priesthood.
"I didn't want to change a thing in my world," Muccino recalled. "I loved my medical work, my home, my friends and colleagues, and my neighborhood. But the desire to add priesthood to the mix meant 'changing everything.' So I did."
Four years ago, Loyola contacted Muccino and offered him an opportunity to develop his skills in education administration at Stritch School of Medicine. "My educational work also provides a wonderful environment for priestly activity with students, faculty and administrators," Muccino said.
"The last four years have been a rapid and ideal learning curve. I came in with an open mind to see what the school needed and what I would be interested in learning and contributing," said Muccino, who took his final vows in the Society of Jesus, on August 17th, in the atrium of Stritch School of Medicine.
"Loyola's been a wonderful place to be doing what I set my hopes on doing for the next phase of my life; because the school is so collegial and intimate." "I can't think of a place I'd rather be to help shape the future of medical education and the medical profession," Muccino said. "And to be able to do all this while doing what I can for the Church - it's a real privilege."