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Brad Simmons, MHA, FACHE, started his new role as the president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics and vice president for medical affairs at the University of Washington on Aug. 16. He’s been in healthcare administration for over 20 years and comes from the University of California where he served in leadership roles for UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

He spoke recently with The Huddle about his career and personal interests.

What was your path to healthcare administration?

When I was a sophomore in college, I was diagnosed with melanoma and was a patient for several years. My oncologist asked me about my career goals, and I told him I wanted to go into finance and be a consultant. He asked me, “Well, what about healthcare?” I didn’t even know there was an administration side to healthcare. He introduced me to several administrators, who talked to me about healthcare administration, and from there, it took off.

As a leader in healthcare, what topics are you most passionate about?

It’s an honor to work in healthcare. Patients entrust their lives to our clinical teams to heal and take care of them. Our communities need us, especially the underserved. I’m passionate about finding ways to take care of our patients. I’m also passionate about finding ways to take care of our staff. Both patients and staff need our leaders to find ways to make this healthcare journey safe and efficient.

What drew you to UW Medicine?

It was through relationships with colleagues and other leaders in healthcare who talk so highly of UW Medicine.

UW Medicine is unique — with all the different facilities and communities united by a mission that spans clinical, teaching, research and equity work. Plus, I had been to Seattle a few times for concerts, and the city is robust and vibrant.

What is most important to accomplish as you start your new position?

Learning and listening. All academic medical centers have some things that are fundamentally the same, but every organization’s culture is different. I want to take the time to meet as many people as possible to understand better what is driving the organization and how all the different parts work together, and then apply my experience to help drive us toward taking care of more patients more efficiently.

What do you see as UW Medicine’s challenges, how do they compare to UC Davis or other healthcare organizations, and how will you address them?

Healthcare, in general, is challenging right now. We went through an unprecedented pandemic. We went through several years of constant change and learning. We’ve had to adjust to so many different things.

Within that change and challenge, we have to figure out what our post-pandemic landscape looks like and how we engage our workforce. The financial challenges are real, and all of our hospitals are full of sick and complex patients. We must look for ways to be efficient and figure out how to increase our capacity to take care of our communities and continue to expand our teaching and research.

We have an advantage here at UW Medicine because there is such a strong connection to our mission and dedication to caring for our communities.

What would you like people at UW Medicine to know about you?

I’m here to help break down barriers and help people do their jobs better. I’m excited to be part of the team and find out what I can do to help. If you see me in the hallway, stop and say hi. I want to get to know people, hear feedback and ideas and learn about your experience so we can make our organization even better.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love listening to live music. I also love to travel and take long weekend regional trips. I’ve been exploring new neighborhoods on the weekends and trying new foods to get to know the city. I also try my best to hike, paddleboard, get outdoors and enjoy the views.