Keynote Speakers

Robert M. Underwood, MD, MHCDS, CPE
Keynote Speaker

Fee: Negotiable
Travel: Robert travels from New Mexico.

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Winning the Physician Challenge | Developing Leaders of Character

With rapid changes facing the health care industry there is a growing need for physician leaders. Unfortunately, the intense training needed to become a clinical expert does not include leadership development. In fact, medical training is often in conflict with this necessary skill set. What talents need to be developed? What expertise may need to be “unlearned”? This discussion will help clarify these questions while exploring the commitment necessary for both the providers and the organizations along this shared leadership journey.


Dr. Robert Underwood is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point (1987). He completed medical school at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine (1998), then residency in emergency medicine at Wake Forest University (2001). Dr. Underwood also holds a master's degree in Health Care Delivery Science from Dartmouth College (2015).

After graduating from West Point, he was commissioned as a field artillery officer leading men and women on missile and cannon weapon systems. After active duty in the Army he worked for a short time as an operations manager with Caterpillar, Inc. until being mobilized during Operation Desert Storm. Once discharged from active duty again, he went back to school to complete his pre-medical education while working as a manager in a large hospital, simultaneously continuing to serve in the Army Reserve Components (1991-2004). Titles he has held in the Army and Army Reserve Components include platoon leader, fire direction officer, aide-de-camp, battery commander, and field surgeon.

For eight years following residency, Dr. Underwood worked in a purely clinical capacity as an emergency physician in a 75,000 patient per year department. With the arrival of the electronic medical record he was asked to lead the physician efforts around EMR implementation and optimization as the Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Here, his administrative and leadership duties evolved into further roles including: Director for Clinical Transformation, and regional Medical Director for Population Health. After completing his master’s degree, Dr. Underwood moved to Colorado to serve as the Chief Medical Officer for St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in the Centura Health System.

A dynamic and experienced speaker and presenter, Dr. Underwood adapted Academy Leadership’s "Boot Camp” curriculum for the healthcare setting and has taught leadership to interprofessional health care groups. Dr. Underwood has been listed twice in "Hospital and Health System CMOs to Know” on Becker's Hospital Review.

Dr. Underwood is now the CMO for San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, New Mexico where he also continues to see patients clinically. He is married and has 3 children and 2 stepchildren, ranging in age from 18 to 27. He spends free time at his small cabin in the Rocky Mountains, fly fishing, and traveling with Gina, his wife.