Last Updated: Jun 12, 2019
Paul Malaspina, MD, is a general and trauma surgeon with UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa. He serves as a member of the Erie County Medical Society Board. Dr. Malaspina is the recipient of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Everyday Hero Award for June 2019.
Community involvement is second nature for trauma surgeon Dr. Paul Malaspina.
His dedication to helping others started early in his career when he worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT). And, it continues to this day in his role as a physician and an outspoken advocate for the “Stop the Bleed” initiative to educate the public on bleeding control techniques.
“I didn’t go to medical school until age 35,” says Dr. Malaspina. At that point, he already gained experience in emergency and trauma care through several career roles – first as an EMT, then a paramedic, and finally as a surgical physician assistant.
Once he made the choice to attend medical school, he says, becoming a trauma surgeon was a natural progression for him.
Dr. Malaspina is a graduate of the Temple University School of Medicine. “Temple is known for producing physicians who are critical thinkers who develop a comprehensive understanding of each patient,” he says. “That has stayed with me longitudinally.”
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Twenty years ago, he chose to make Erie his home after he was recruited to work for Hamot Medical Center, now UPMC Hamot. “My wife Debbie and I were looking for a good environment in which to raise our children, which it certainly has been,” Dr. Malaspina says.
He and his wife Debbie have been married for 35 years, and he is deeply appreciative of her support. They have two children, Ryan and Angela, who Dr. Malaspina calls “our light and our reason.”
Dr. Malaspina gives back to his community by offering education on Stop the Bleed, a program which teaches bleeding control techniques proven to save lives during emergencies.
He first became involved with Stop the Bleed when he served as governor of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Surgeons and caregivers involved in the Sandy Hook school shooting created the concept, which was then further developed by ACS in conjunction with partners like the White House and the U.S. Department of Defense.
“Dr. Malaspina is dedicated to the safety of our community and will go above and beyond the call of duty to help all patients,” says his colleague Timothy Pelkowski, MD, who nominated him for the award. “Paul has focused on educating as many as possible on the ‘Stop the Bleed’ campaign in our area.”
Advancing his profession through organized medicine is also a priority for Dr. Malaspina. He is a current member of the Erie County Medical Society Board of Trustees. He recommends that medical students and young physicians consider getting involved.
“Participating in organized medicine is the best way to advocate for your profession and will be increasingly crucial in the future as various other stakeholder entities will continue to try to control the doctor’s practice,” Dr. Malaspina says.
Ultimately, the life of a surgeon is a busy one. Dr. Malaspina says that a typical week finds him in general surgery during the day and trauma/acute care surgery at night. It’s a commitment he is more than willing to make – The importance of his vocation keeps him going.