Paul G. Echols, MD, has been named chief medical officer for UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC) in Rio Rancho, the UNM Health Sciences Center announced Thursday. Echols, a long-time UNM orthopedic surgeon, comes to the role with more than 40 years of physician experience, according to Jamie Silva-Steele, SRMC president and CEO.

"In addition to his work within the UNM Health System, Echols has extensive clinical and administrative experience in venues including the Albuquerque Veterans Administration Medical Center, as well as military facilities and community hospitals," she said. "We are excited to have Dr. Echols join the UNM SRMC team."

Echols completed residency training in orthopaedic surgery at UNM In 1978, and he has been board-certified in orthopedic surgery since 1979. His career at UNM started in 1992 with the UNM Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. In 2005, he received an academic promotion to professor, and was vice chair of clinical services from 2006-2011. He arrived at UNM SRMC in June 2012 as the Orthopaedic Site Director, and served in that capacity until July 2015, retiring as professor emeritus during the same time. 

He is a military veteran and served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon and was an active duty staff orthopedic surgeon during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as Operation Noble Eagle/Operation Enduring Freedom. Echols retired from the USAF in 2003 at the rank of colonel.