Jon Simmons, M.D., associate professor of surgery and pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently graduated from the Harvard Medical School Surgical Leadership Program.

Published Nov 21st, 2019

By Lindsay Mott
lmott@health.southalabama.edu


Jon Simmons, M.D., associate professor of surgery and pharmacology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine recently graduated from the Harvard Medical School Surgical Leadership Program.

The program is a one-year postgraduate certificate program through the Harvard Medical School that consists of three in-person workshops (one week in London, and two weeks in Boston), 40 lectures and online webinars, monthly tests, two team-based projects, a Capstone project and a comprehensive final exam.

As trauma medical director and chief of trauma and acute care surgery at USA Health, Simmons leads the team that makes USA the region’s only level one trauma center.

“In 2017, I was placed in a role that was very different than my previous positions,” Simmons said. “I immediately realized the importance of our trauma center to the region in terms of treating injured patients, reducing violence, and supporting economic development. I thought this would be an excellent way to learn the most effective methods of adaptive leadership early in my career.”

Simmons said the program provided him with the resources and tools necessary to create institutional and cultural changes that are sustainable. As a scholar in surgical leadership, he learned how important it is for every employee in an organization to be able to exhibit leadership.

“Regardless of personal characteristics, most would agree that effective leadership is much more about creating a vision, aligning employee and institutional values, and maximizing everyone’s potential around you,” he said. “I am certainly more cognizant now that each employee can be a leader by positively influencing people around them to create change or sustain an institutional mission.”

The program also focused on understanding how technology impacts the field of medicine and transforming ideas into intellectual property that can enter the market. Simmons’ capstone project was on a device that measures the thickness of burned skin and predicts the need for surgery and skin grafting -- an idea that he has been working on since 2013.

“I was taking classes from the world experts in leadership and business,” he said. “Every class was amazing and the opportunities for a surgeon to learn about leadership and business were unparalleled.”

The application for the program is very competitive and Simmons is thankful for the support he received from William Richards, M.D., professor and chair of surgery at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, and hospital administration throughout the process.

“We’re amazingly proud of what Jon Simmons has been able to do,” Richards said. “We’ve invested in him and been rewarded. Leaders just don’t appear. It takes a lot of time and effort and training, so I’m glad he was able to attend the leadership program and strengthen his skills in providing outstanding leadership, developing programs and initiatives, and recruiting faculty and residents for the department of surgery, the health system and for USA. We’re looking forward to seeing improved results in our trauma critical care and acute care surgery division.”

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