Leadership

Bridget A. Bagert, MD: Empowering patients with multiple sclerosis

Bridget A. Bagert, MD

The AMA “Members Move Medicine” series profiles a wide variety of doctors, offering a glimpse into the passions of women and men navigating new courses in American medicine.

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On the move with: Bridget A. Bagert, MD, a neurologist at Ochsner Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Center in New Orleans. Learn more about Ocshner Health System, an AMA Health System Engagement Partner.

AMA member since: 1997.

What inspired me to pursue a career in medicine: My grandfather was a physician in New Orleans and my grandmother, his wife, was a nurse. As a child, I saw that their work was guided by a sense of purpose and meaning, and that they were personally gratified by their careers. Their example inspired me to go into medicine.

How I move medicine: I believe that when we empower people living with chronic disease with facts about their condition, and with strategies to improve their well-being, they will make better-informed decisions about their health which will result in less disability and improved quality of life.

As director of the Ochsner MS Center, I have worked to incorporate this principle in all aspects of the care our team provides to people living with MS. In addition to the extensive counseling that we do in clinic with patients, we have created a lending library, hosted educational fairs, and held regular educational support groups.

Career highlights: I have twice been honored to receive an Ochsner Spirit of Leadership award and was also honored as the "Person on the Move" by the Louisiana Chapter of the National MS Society in 2017. In 2018, I was honored to be invited to participate in an expert panel entitled, "What is the cause of MS?" at the International Society for Neuroimmunology in Brisbane, Australia.

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In 2019, our Ochsner MS Center became a site for a novel phase 1 clinical trial using a precision medicine approach in which healthy donor immune cells are infused into people living with MS. Our participation in this groundbreaking research effort is my proudest academic accomplishment.

Advice I’d give to those interested in pursuing a career in medicine: My advice is that they take time to consider exactly what aspect of health care delivery appeals to them and why before making a career decision. There are so many different career paths within health care today, and with the recent advances in digital medicine and data analytics, there are new opportunities for people with unconventional skill sets and training to pursue a career in health care.

How my organization gives back to the community: Ochsner has a generous financial assistance program for patients with economic hardship, as well as a commitment to improving access to health care in general in the communities it serves. Ochsner has also recently partnered with Discovery Academy to found a new K–8 school—the Dr. John Ochsner Discovery Health Science Academy—that will focus on STEM education. The school will be located in the Shrewsberry Community near Ochsner's flagship Jefferson Highway campus and will offer an admissions lottery preference to kids in the surrounding neighborhood.

Aspect of my work that means the most: Ochsner has an abiding commitment to improve the quality of the health care we deliver and the safety of the patients that we serve. Ochsner leaders have embraced a culture of innovation and change in their pursuit of these goals, and in doing so have transformed our health system for the better. I am proud to work in a health care system that values quality and safety as much as Ochsner does.

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How my organization is shaping the future of medicine: Innovation is central to Ochsner's mission. I believe Ochsner has shaped the future of medicine with its pursuit of innovative ways to deliver higher quality care, to diagnose and treat diseases earlier, and to communicate with patients more easily. Our Digital Hypertension program and Tele-stroke program are two shining examples of ways in which our health system has used emerging technologies to transform lives. 

Learn more about how innovation happens inside and outside the walls at Ocshner.

Visit MembershipMovesMedicine.com to learn more about other AMA members who are relentlessly moving medicine through advocacy, education, patient care and practice innovation, and join or renew today.