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By Mitierra Johnson, Environmental Health Research Assistant 

Michael Beuhler Partner spotlight photoDr. Michael Beuhler has built a career and reputation throughout North Carolina as the medical director for North Carolina Poison Control (NCPC), providing clinical advice and recommendations. However, his life and career have taken some interesting twists before taking on this role.

At the age of 14, he had a life-changing surgery and with that exposure to the healthcare system, a love for science, and wanting to help people, he decided to pursue medicine. Little did he know that his boyhood love of science would expose him to opportunities throughout the country.

After growing up in Long Island, Beuhler’s career started in New York when he earned a BS in Chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and physics from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo.  He earned his medical degree from SUNY Stony Brook and completed his residency in emergency medicine at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY.  Realizing his strength in chemistry would be useful as a physician, he pivoted to Medical Toxicology, which led him to complete a medical toxicology fellowship in Phoenix, AZ at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center. Following this, he was offered a job as the Medical Director at the NC Poison Control.

After more than 20 years at Poison Control, Beuhler has noticed changes in the educational approach at the NCPC. This new model has allowed for additional interaction with multiple state agencies and building relationships with new consultants. Working with the state at multiple levels has allowed him to form organic connections with partners of the NC Lead and Healthy Homes Task Force. He has been attending the meetings for over 3 years and serves on an ad hoc advisory committee aimed at improving lead testing among children. Participating in these meetings allows him to be involved in preventative health measures from a public health level. Additionally, he has become more involved in management of individual cases with elevated lead levels around the state.

This change in education and outreach also led the agency to launch two educational programs. Healthcare professionals can participate in a monthly 2-day rotator program offered by the North Carolina Poison Control that provides practical learning of poisoning cases, lectures from medical toxicology experts, and available treatment options for common poisonings.  Openings are still available for a few months in 2024 for any interested healthcare professionals.

NC Poison Control also offers a virtual one-day program that interfaces with some of the nursing training programs in the state. Nursing students receive a full day of toxicology as part of their didactic learning.

In addition to his growing NC presence, Dr. Beuhler has had a role in national efforts to address toxicology, including his membership in America’s Poison Centers for about 20 years. This organization serves as the national face of poison centers, and in recent years, he has become more active, serving on various committees, and working on multiple projects.

Reflecting on his work, the most fulfilling part of his job is being able to utilize his skill set to help people. Specifically, he is most proud of the agency’s establishment of a snake bite management program and his role in addressing lead exposure cases.

Outside of work, his passions are 3D printing, painting, and several types of gaming. Once a year, he gives a lecture at a gaming convention (GenCon, IN) titled “Toxins in Gaming and Literature”.

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