From Learner to Professor: Dr. Richardson Crafts Her Career

Since graduating from The Healthcare MBA in 2019, Dr. Judy Richardson has been on the move. When Judy entered the program, she was already the medical director for Columbia Crest Family Medicine in The Dalles, OR where she championed person-centered care and advocated for healthcare in rural communities. In 2021, Judy rose to new challenges, posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, by serving the State as the Deputy Lead Strategy and Implementation for the COVID-19 Vaccine Unit. This deep dive into the intersection of policy and action led her to pursue new adventures. First, she began teaching the Strategy and Healthcare Systems courses as an adjunct instructor. Second, she joined the Center for Health System Effectiveness (CHSE) as a Senior Research Policy Manager. Since then, and while keeping her in role with CHSE, she has joined the Division as an Assistant Professor where her skills in graphic facilitation support students in her classes in making sense of complex experiences.  

Given that Judy's journey began as a student, she is well poised to offer some advice for others seeking their next career adventure: 

Judy’s 3 pieces of career advice 

  1. Lean into your transferable skills, and trust your toolkit. Consider what you like doing and for which you have competency. For Judy, these skills included problem-solving, project management, adaptability, creativity, and communication. You may need to brush up on some skills or adapt to new challenges. Judy took advantage of life-long-learning resources, like LinkedIn Learning, to learn about how to lead and manage meetings in virtual spaces.  

  1. Find a role model who has made similar transitions. Reach out to these people and ask them about their journeys. Seek their advice through informational interviews. Judy also reminds us to keep doors open. You may find, through trying it out, that a possible future is not the path you want to pursue. As an example, she keeps her medical license active, maintains her CME requirements, and sees patients on a per diem basis.  

  1. Feed your network. While similar to the second piece of advice, consider updating your LinkedIn profile and conducting informational interviews with people are doing work that is similar to what you are considering or seeking. Judy notes that “doors open in surprising settings.” Look for opportunities, be surprised, and connect with folks. 

Of course, upon making major transitions, there is lots to learn. Judy often comes back to a quote by Bruce Lee (as noted by his daughter Shannon Lee in her biography of her father Be the Water My Friend): “The usefulness of the cup is its emptiness.” She encourages people, “in learning a new job, embrace the student mindset, be humble, curious, and self-forgiving.” In medicine, there is the adage, “see one, do one, teach one.” Judy carries this with her and continues to learn from those around her and teach it forward.  

Specific to her role as a teacher, Judy remembers those from whom she has learned. She fondly remembers the challenge given by Dr. Ron Sakaguchi in the Design and Innovation course. He challenged students to see the world from different perspectives. He asked students to analyze a proposed clinic that had been designed with LEAN methodology in mind but through patient’s lens. The class realized that there were no comfortable spaces for patients, many of whom had traveled long distances, to sit and relax if they were early. Now, as a teacher, she continues to learn as she puts courses together and thinks through connections in a new way. Daily, she learns from the students who bring their rich experiences and perspectives. She notes how she is “continually inspired by their energy and enthusiasm for improving the health system.” She is also surprised by how much connectivity can be built in the virtual environment. Judy uses her project management and problem-solving tools along with her mindsets of creativity, communication, and adaptability to not only grow herself but to help students learn and achieve their goals.