Tony Reina MD is the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Architect for Health and Life Sciences at Intel Corporation. In his day-to-day work, Dr. Reina is part of a team is discovering new ways of implementing the emerging technology of AI to patient care. Interestingly, Dr. Reina’s path to healthcare technology has not been straightforward and included a 12 year break from medicine as a stay at home dad.
When Tony Reina was an undergraduate biomedical engineering major at Boston University, he worked on neuroscience research at the NIH during the summers. He enjoyed the research, which was focused on building a visual prosthetic system.
After completing medical school at The University of Maryland, he began an internal medicine residency at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. Within just a few months, Dr. Reina realized that patient care was not right for him. He recalls rushing through his patient log and documentation to get through the tasks assigned to him each day. After admitting to himself and to his program director that a future in patient care was not a good fit for him, he reconnected with his mentor from the NIH, who helped point him to a post doctorate fellowship in San Diego. A few years into his post doc, when the lead researcher of the lab accepted another job at the University of Pittsburgh, Tony Reina moved to Pittsburgh.
Once Dr. Reina completed his post doc fellowship, his wife, a navy physician, was stationed in Sicily, Italy. Shortly after Dr. Reina and his wife, a psychiatrist, moved to Italy, their two young sons were born and he became a stay at home dad. While in Italy, he taught undergraduate science courses at the University of Maryland extension college part time and co-edited a book about C++. After four years in Italy, when the family came home to the US, Dr. Reina continued as a stay at home dad.
The family moved back to San Diego a few years later, and Dr. Reina started to think about working in the field of healthcare technology. He explains that a physician trying to find a way into industry can be seen as a square peg in a round hole. Because industry internships are generally available to full time students, he enrolled in a masters program in data science. After an internship at Intel, he was offered a job at the company and has been there in his current role for almost three years. Dr. Reina explains that he learned a lot about AI on the job as well as on his own. He says that the application of AI in industry is currently ahead of academia, and that much of it has to be self taught.
He advises doctors to think about where they are now and whether the path they are heading down seems like where they would like to be in three years. He says that if staying where you are will not lead to something better in three years, that it is time to pivot.
Tony Reina MD explains that the tuition cost of a master’s degree pays off because it can help you get your foot in the door. And if a doctor who wants to transition into the field of technology isn’t offered a job right out of internship, Tony Reina advises to do another internship and keep trying. “Eventually you will get an offer,” he says. And in the areas of technology and AI, Dr. Reina says that it isn’t necessarily the degree that sets you apart as an expert. Instead, he’s explains that leadership and expertise are built from the drive, ability, and courage to find out how to do things you don’t know how to do.
Physician Success Stories