Neil discovered what he calls "the peace of pinball" when he was in medical school. After long study sessions, a few games of pinball would reset his brain. What he didn't realize at the time was how pinball was teaching him to think strategically and react accordingly. Now that he's a Rheumatologist and Associate Medical Director, the skills he honed in pinball still serve him today. In his work, making a diagnosis requires listening skills, patience and flexibility. When talking with patients, a few new insights could mean a completely new direction. Just like a pinball makes flips and turns along the way, Neil's learned there's no straightforward path to every diagnosis. But, he takes the changes in stride. It's all part of his role in making the medical practice better for patients. And when he's not at work, he's with his children at the arcade – teaching them a few of the life skills he uses every day.
"In pinball you have to be patient and let the ball find its path. In clinical practice, we have to be patient as well when a diagnosis demands a different path."
How do you describe your job to family and friends?
Most of my time is spent as a Rheumatologist seeing patients in the clinic. But as an Associate Medical Director, I'm also reviewing specialty department performance to ensure we're meeting our goals.
What are the elements of your job you love?
I love being a clinician and working with patients, but the administrative work is also very rewarding. I think what I enjoy most is learning how to improve our medical practice not only for us but also for our patients.
What are some of the greatest challenges you need to take on in order to be successful in your role?
In medicine, many disease states don't have a clear standard of care. In rheumatology, we have to take the history and ask a lot of questions. Depending on the patient's answer, we may have to change our thinking about the diagnostic path.
When you’re facing those challenges, what are some of your personal strengths and abilities that come into play?
I'm very patient, and I have the ability to sit back and process new challenges that come up without getting over-excited.
How do those same elements show up in the passions and interests you pursue outside of work?
I really enjoy playing pinball, and I think those skills rely on patience. You have to be patient and let the ball go from one side to the other to get the right shot. Sometimes in clinical practice, I need to ask certain questions of the patient to try to figure out a diagnostic path. And it's very similar to pinball because if I get a different answer, it's like flipping the ball to the other side.
How have you grown at UnitedHealth Group?
When I started with the company, I was a full-time clinical Rheumatologist. When there was an opportunity to become chief of my department, I took it. I also took advantage of some of the training to advance my skills, and that led to becoming an associate medical director.
What’s the most important thing someone should know before joining our company?
Keep your eyes open for opportunities, because they're all around you. When you do well, the organization will offer you training and ways to advance your knowledge, and that's invaluable.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I was classically trained in Judaism, so I can read and chant Torah in Hebrew, and I lead services in Hebrew at the synagogue I attend.
If you weren’t working at UnitedHealth Group or doing what you do today, what would you be doing?
I think I would be a lawyer, I find law fascinating.
Favorite person, living or dead?
Ian Anderson, the lead singer and songwriter for all of Jethro Tull songs. I find his music and lyrics really inspirational.
What's your favorite movie and why?
When I was young, my mom took me to see a Jim Henson movie called The Dark Crystal. I really enjoyed how he did puppetry in a completely different way, and now I've watched it with my own children.
What are you most grateful for?
I'm extraordinarily fortunate to have a fantastic, wonderful wife and family that I can come home to after work. I'm also grateful for my parents.