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Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Kathleen Hittner, M.D.

Picture of Kathleen Hittner
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Kathleen Hittner, M.D.

“My parents taught me to do something with my life. They got up at four in the morning to work. I always liked helping people, and medicine has given me that opportunity.”


Lincoln Chafee

Jack Reed

Patrick J. Kennedy



As a child of around 10, Kathleen Hittner witnessed a beloved uncle in the throes of a heart attack. "I wanted so badly to help him and I couldn't. After that, I decided I'd be a doctor. I started out with a tremendous interest in the heart and its functions, and then found I loved the challenge of anesthesia." The uncle survived that heart attack, though a succession of later heart attacks proved fatal, but Kathleen Hittner had found her path. As the CEO of one of Rhode Island's best hospitals and a practicing clinician as well as professor of medicine at Brown University, she wears many hats and all of them well.

Kathleen Hittner began her career with a residency in clinical anesthesiology in 1976 at Georgetown University Hospital, where she then became Chief Resident in Anesthesiology. She later directed the Cardiac Anesthesia Service Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health while serving as assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at Georgetown.

She came to Rhode Island and Miriam Hospital in 1979 where she has remained, first as Director of Cardiovascular Anesthesia from 1982--1996; and then as Chair of the Pharmacy Committee from 1983-2000; as anesthesiologist-in-Chief from 1996-2000, and as President of the Medical Staff from 1998-2000. She was appointed president and CEO of Miriam Hospital in 2000, and in 2001 was named President of the Miriam Hospital Foundation.

Nominated by Rhode Island Senators Lincoln Chafee, (R-RI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI-1st), Kathleen Hittner was the first woman president of the Rhode Island Medical Society in 1991, and the first women physician to head Miriam Hospital.

She continues to practice as an anesthesiologist, and also serves on the faculty of Brown University School of Medicine, where she is currently a Clinical Professor of Surgery in Anesthesiology. She received the School of Medicine's Distinguished Teacher Award in 2000 and 2004.

She was named one of the "Top Docs" in the state by Rhode Island Monthly in 2000, 2002, and 2004, and received the American College of Healthcare Executives Regents Awards "Early Career Award" in 2002.

She is the author of numerous scientific publications, and a frequent speaker at conferences regionally and nationally. She is active in the community and as an advocate for improving the health of Rhode Island citizens. Her time at Miriam Hospital has brought awards to that institution-the hospital received the Solucient Top 100 Award for cardiovascular services for the third consecutive year in 2004 and fourth year overall. The Miriam Hospital was also awarded the Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services for a second consecutive year in 2005, making it one of only eight hospitals nationally to capture the award twice.

Her work continues to bring praise. "She is remarkable for her dedication, vision, and profound love of medicine." said Senator Jack Reed.



Appointed, Staff Anesthesiologist, Miriam Hospital, Providence, RI


Elected First Woman President of the Rhode Island Medical Society


Appointed Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology in Surgery, Brown Medical School, Providence, RI


Appointed, CEO, Miriam Hospital, Providence, RI


Elected President of the Miriam Foundation, Miriam Hospital, Providence, RI




Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA



Sub Specialty

Hospital Administration


Rhode Island