Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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Distinguished Woman Leader: Rekha Murthy, MD

Rekha Murthy, MD

In honor of National Women’s History Month—celebrated in March since 1987—and International Women’s Day on March 8, Pulse is featuring Q&A's to celebrate the achievements of our talented female leaders at Cedars-Sinai.

This week's interview, which concludes the series, is with a woman nationally recognized for her expertise in hospital epidemiology, infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance: Rekha Murthy, MD, professor of Medicine, vice president of Medical Affairs and associate chief medical officer.

What do you do in a typical day on the job?

I provide leadership for programs that support quality and safety in patient care, including hospital epidemiology, patient safety, peer review, quality services, and resource and outcomes management. I work with medical staff leaders on issues pertaining to physician practice and achieving the medical staff’s quality and safety goals. My typical day consists of meetings with executive management and medical staff leaders on these topics. In other meetings, I provide expertise in specific projects, such as antimicrobial stewardship or the investigation of harm events.

One example of my role involves ensuring that hand hygiene is performed routinely by caregivers to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections. Another example is overseeing organizational efforts to prevent or eliminate potential harm to patients by learning from events and sharing lessons learned.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Working with the staff and leaders at Cedars-Sinai has been a source of inspiration to me. I find it particularly rewarding to impact the culture of safety in ways that have meaningful and lasting benefits. For example, I'm reminded of our success with making hand hygiene a routine behavior when I observe caregivers automatically disinfect their hands when entering and exiting patient rooms—much like people wearing seat belts in vehicles without prompting. I also find it rewarding and humbling to mentor and coach many individuals, including trainees and professionals, which I value as an important part of my role.

Who is your science heroine from history and why?

My first science heroine was French physicist Marie Curie, whom I learned about when reading her biography during middle school. I was inspired by her dedication to her career, particularly in the field of science at a time when few women were scientists. She was passionate and persistent in pursuing her curiosity despite many challenges, ultimately becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and also the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes—in physics and chemistry. Since then, I’ve been, and continue to be, inspired by teachers, mentors and colleagues who contribute—either directly or by encouraging others—to scientific knowledge and discovery that can improve the health of our patients and community.