Stevenson to serve as interim chairman of health policy

David Stevenson, PhD, MS

by Jill Clendening

David Stevenson Jr., PhD, MS, professor of health policy, has been named interim chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He succeeds Melinda Buntin, PhD, the Mike Curb Professor and founding department chair, who joined Johns Hopkins University to establish a Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling.

Stevenson has been a member of the Department of Health Policy since it was established in 2013. The department comprises a multidisciplinary group of scholars who conduct research to inform improvements in health care delivery and population health.

The Department of Health Policy is important to our mission. It continues to play a vital role in national affairs, providing valuable information that helps guide state and national health policy development, as well as providing key research findings that shape our understanding of public health issues such as prescription drug pricing and health insurance coverage, said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, president and CEO of VUMC and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Stevenson’s career as a national leader in health care policy and his tenure within the department make him well qualified for this new role. I want to thank him for his service as interim president.

In 2018, Stevenson was promoted to professor of health policy and in 2019 was awarded an inaugural position of Endowed Director in Public Health Research and Education. Prior to joining VUMC, he served on the faculty of the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.

Stevenson holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from Oberlin College, a master’s degree in health care policy and management from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She holds a doctorate in health policy from Harvard University. You have worked in various research and policy settings, including the US Department of Public Health, the Urban Institute, and Medstat.

Stevenson’s work focuses on educational activities, including mentoring and teaching medical students, residents, and fellows. He serves as vice chair for education in the Department of Health Policy, as director of health policy education, and leads the health policy track in the Master of Public Health program at the School of Medicine. He is also the faculty co-chair of the medical school admissions committee.

Stevenson is a national expert in long-term care and end-of-life policy research and was a member of the consensus committee that produced the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s 2022 report on nursing home quality. He now serves as committee co-chair of the Moving Forward Nursing Home Quality Coalition, a national initiative to achieve the vision of this report.

He has presented this and other work before the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and various federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the US Government Accountability Office, the Department of Justice, and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Stevenson also serves on the Technical Expert Panel for the National Five-Star Nursing Home Rating System and previously served on a similar Technical Expert Panel for Hospice Compare. Stevenson’s research was cited as directly addressing the Biden administration’s recommendations on nursing home transparency and accountability.

Stevenson is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed articles, review articles, books, and chapters. He is on the editorial board of Health services researchTHE Journal of pain and symptom management and the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

A primary role of the chair, interim or otherwise, is to support and promote the work of the department as a whole, Stevenson said. This is made so much easier by the fact that they were doing high-quality, impactful research and were incredibly supportive of each other. Honestly, several people in the department would have been willing and able to fill this role. And each of us would benefit from the vision and momentum that already existed in the department, due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Buntin, the support of Dr. Balser and VUMC leadership, and the dedication of our faculty and staff.

My role is to move the department forward and ensure our next president benefits from the commitment to excellence and goodwill that defined our first decade as a department. Perhaps most of all, I am excited to help serve as a bridge to our next decade as a department and to the opportunities and ideas a new chair will help us define and pursue.

A 14-member committee, led by Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, James C. General Professor and Chief Pediatrician at Monroe Carell Jr. Childrens Hospital in Vanderbilt, was tasked with conducting a national research to identify the permanent head of departments.

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