Brent Mulgrew ’75: Honored by AMA for Lifetime Achievement
Brent Mulgrew ’75 was recently honored by the American Medical Association with the 2008 Medical Executive Lifetime Achievement Award, which is given to a medical association executive who has contributed and made an impact on the medical profession over an extended period of time.
“After finding out I was being honored for a “lifetime of achievement”, I realized I had been here a long time,” Mulgrew said. “The staff earned the award for me; I didn’t earn it on my own.”
Mulgrew is the executive director of the Ohio State Medical Association (OSMA). He is in his 35th year working for the organization. He started with the OSMA after completing law school.
The Steubenville native earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Bethany College (W.V.) in 1971. In the same year, he earned his master’s degree in history from Ohio University. He worked a short while in the United States Senate.
“I learned that Senators listen primarily to two people, and lawyers are one of them,” he said.
He decided to go to law school, but not in aspirations of joining the legal profession.
“I was actually not interested in studying law at all in law school,” Mulgrew said. “I had no intention of practicing the law. I wanted to go to law school for the intellectual exercise and to become a better thinker. Then I wanted to influence public policy.”
Mulgrew did not choose Moritz solely for the scholarships and career opportunities it provided, but also because the college allowed deferred enrolment.
“Ohio State was willing to wait and admit me after a year in the Air Force,” he said. “My draft number was 17. I enlisted in the Air Force Reserve and I went to serve my country.”
Although he came in as part of the class of 1975, he accelerated through his law degree and earned it in 1974. He began working for OSMA in September of his final year at Moritz and has been with the organization ever since.
The OSMA is a professional association representing 15,000 physicians and students in the state of Ohio. It is affiliated with the AMA on the national level and county medical societies on the local level.
As executive director, Mulgrew works in cooperation with the board of directors and acts as coordinator of all the activities. He deals mainly with governance and policy making for the OSMA.
“I have a staff of 50 that do the hard work. Four of us are lawyers,” he said.
Working with physicians on a regular basis, Mulgrew is aware of the difference between lawyers and medical doctors.
“They think very differently from lawyers. Physicians focus on the immediate acute problem on the short-term by handling the disease as it presents. Lawyers focus on the long-term implications of a decision,” he said. “It creates the opportunity for creative discussions.”
Mulgrew also helps legislators and the public understand complex medical issues in layman’s terms.
“My job is to help physicians understand legal issues and have them help me understand and present medical policy issues,” he said.
Mulgrew stays connected to the law school via speaking engagements, he said.
“I speak occasionally on health policy issues at the law school,” he said. “I have also had Moritz interns on health law over the years. … Moritz gave me a wonderful education. It prepared me well to use my degree in a nontraditional manner.”