Peggy Wheeler, MD, is the James M. Feld Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Since undergraduate studies, medical school, residency, and fellowship, Dr. Wheeler continues to call UIC “home”.
At UIC, Dr. Wheeler provides primarily neuroanesthesia care for complicated neurosurgical cases. She is also very involved in resident and fellowship education/training and serves as the Resident Associate Program Director and the Neuroanesthesiology Fellowship Director. In addition to UIC, Dr. Wheeler also provides care for our veterans at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
Dr. Wheeler embraces the academic mission of enhancing curiosity, innovation and problem-solving, while at the same time, honoring humanity – from self to the world.
How long have you been at UIC?
I started my association with UIC as an undergraduate student at UIC East Campus (formerly known as Circle Campus). At that time, I was working overnight shifts to help support my family. I found that UIC was affordable and it offered flexibility that could accommodate my work schedule. I soon discovered that UIC provided a “balanced” educational experience. Not only did UIC excel in academics and research, but it embraced its diverse urban Chicago heritage by engaging the local, national and global communities to identify challenges and develop solutions. My transition to the Medical Center on the West Campus unlocked a whole new world of excitement, which continues to this day.
Why do you stay?
Short answer – The people, the community and the mission of education, research and service.
What do you love most about this program? What makes this place unique for you?
I love the people, environment and the everyday challenges that we identify and conquer in unique ways. We truly embrace the “team” spirit. The latest example was when COVID-19 first threatened our community. Everything changed. Members of our department came together to divide and conquer this mysterious foe. People volunteered to lead an airway team for our hospital and support the emergency department and intensive care units. Some focused on the acquisition and safe practices of PPE. There were no limits of collaborations to work on answers to the never-ending questions. Our department worked closely with departments from both East and West Campuses to offer solutions to shortages of ventilators and other supplies. The challenges were big, but the heart of our department was even bigger. We cared for each other, as we cared for our patients and our community, all the while addressing the education of our students, residents and fellows. Zoom has become my “best friend”.
Why did you choose neuroanesthesia?
I love mysteries and puzzles. I like to explore the “how” and “why” of behaviors. I love neuroanesthesia because the brain still remains a “black box” with confounding data. My mentors in residency and fellowship, Dr. Verna Baughman and the late Dr. Ronald Albrecht used to challenge me with what initially seemed like “simple” questions which turned out to be very complex. These conversations helped to open my mind to flexibility, possibility and options. I’m still excited to come to work to learn from and take care of our neurosurgical patients.
How long have you been APD?
Approximately 14 years
What do you think the residents value most about you?
I respect them, I listen intently and I deeply care about their wellbeing.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy riding my bicycle, especially in nature.
Why do you think your colleagues awarded you the Faculty Team Player award?
I am dedicated to my UIC family. I believe in service and to honor all of our team members, no matter their role, with acknowledgement and respect.