When attending Mercer University in Macon, Ga., ACEP Fellow Dr. Matt Astin got his best friend to join him on the cheerleading team … but there was a condition that ultimately put Dr. Astin on center stage. “He said he would try out for the team if I auditioned for the spring musical. Not sure who lost that bet,” Dr. Astin joked. “We were cheerleaders for three years and coached Mercer for two. I have been involved with theater for over 25 years now!”
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 43 – No 02 – February 2024
That first show, Dr. Astin stayed behind the scenes as the assistant stage manager, but the acting bug had bitten him hard.
“I first had a ‘starring’ role in 2002, playing Dr. Frankenfurter in the Rocky Horror Show. That was during the first year of medical school,” he said. “Things slowed way down after that, until I was asked to play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at Mercer during residency.”
These days, Dr. Astin auditions when his busy emergency-medicine schedule allows. At several theaters in the Macon surrounding area, he has portrayed Fred Barret in Titanic, Tateh in Ragtime (twice), Daddy Warbucks in Annie, Frollo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Shrek in Shrek (twice), and Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical.
Dr. Astin noted that acting helps him stay balanced as an emergency physician and medical director of the LiveWell clinics with Atrium Health Navicent in Macon, Ga.
“I get to draw on the life experiences of the characters in the show, both the good and bad,” he said. “This keeps me grounded, both in and out of the department.”
Dr. Astin also works as the team physician both at Mercer University and with the Macon Mayhem hockey team. And while the team-physician role allows him to stay connected to his collegiate athletic memories, it’s the life in the theater where he finds “huge parallels” to working in the emergency department.
“It may surprise some, but all emergency physicians have some actor in them,” he explained. “No matter what is going on in our lives, we put on the ‘costume’ and provide the care for our patients, leaving our worlds outside.”
5 Fun Things with Dr. Astin
- Go-to-Treat? I have a close, personal relationship with Little Debbie. She helped me get through the first couple of years of med school. I am partial to the Swiss Cake Rolls.
- Drinking? Big fan of whiskey, although I don’t drink much.
- Reading? I have started a project to go back to first principles. I currently have a reading list of over 2,000 books to read or re-read in order from oldest publication date to newest. I am interested in how ideas have changed or emerged over time. I am currently reading the Rig Veda, a collection of Indian hymns from ancient times.
- Listening To? Everything from showtunes to jazz to opera to country to rock to classical to rap.
- Guilty Pleasure? I have been a fan of professional wrestling for over 35 years. I guess it is the actor and athlete in me.
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