NHS Graduation Speaker Shares Life Lessons
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 16:05
Nationally recognized health policy researcher and President of AcademyHealth Lisa Simpson shared four lessons from her medical career with students of the School of Nursing and Health Studies at commencement Saturday.
Before working at AcademyHealth, Simpson was a director of the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati.
During the honorary degree citation, Howard Federoff, executive dean of the School of Medicine, noted that Simpson has merited numerous awards for her research on childhood obesity, including the 2010 Excellence in Public Policy and Advocacy from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the 2007 Health Policy Researcher of the Year award from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. Federoff described Simpson as an excellent researcher and praised her ability to bridge policy and practice.
In her address to graduates, Simpson noted that her career had followed a different path from what she imagined at her own graduation.
“Looking back now, I see that the future I imagined for myself that day is quite different from where I ended up,” she said. “The degree you have worked on so hard these last few years is just a beginning and not an end.”
Simpson identified four lessons from her own life that she hoped graduates would take with them into their new careers.
For the first lesson, Simpson emphasized the importance of adapting to new situations.
"You are graduating at a time of unprecedented change in this country,” she said. “The passage of the Affordable Care Act, the growing demand for better value in care, the exploding application of technology to medical care and to all of our social interactions and finally, the impact of spiraling health care costs on all aspects of our national economy and our policy discourse are just some of the forces behind this change.”
Simpson also said learning is key to managing change.
“Learning will be essential as the world changes,” she said. “In our professional careers, we need to keep updating our knowledge, keep challenging our assumptions, because otherwise someone else will.”
The second lesson Simpson shared was that it is important to be prepared when change presents an opportunity.
“Your training has prepared you to seek knowledge in science,” Simpson said. “The [Jesuit] tradition of this fine institution compels you to seek justice.”
In her third lesson, Simpson discussed the importance of finding the right way to express one’s passion and cited a conversation she once had with John Eisenberg, the former physician-in-chief of Georgetown.
“You will each find the right canvas, the right medium to express your passion,” she said. “John Eisenberg … once asked me what lit a fire in my belly. … Well, I answered by telling him what I did… John gave me the nudge that I needed to go back to doing research and publishing and writing on the topics I was passionate about.”
Simpson used visual aids to show the different paths that graduates of the NHS may take, whether as registered nurses or healthcare managers.
“For those among you whose passion is direct care and who will go on to become registered nurses, you will be given access to others’ most joyful and painful moments. You will have the ultimate privilege of glancing into the souls of individuals in need,” she said.
Simpson encouraged interested graduates to pursue evidence-based health research, the same work that she does
“Come join us,” Simpson said. “Your innovation and creativity will define new colors for the canvas that we will collectively paint, a new and different policy picture.”
In her final lesson, Simpson urged graduates to simply be kind.
“Healthcare in this country is too often unkind,” she said. “A kind word, a kind touch, a kind smile. These are small but oh-so-effective salves for the pain and suffering that so many experience in their lives. You will touch the world with your training and your passion, but you will be remembered for your kindness.”