Rhea Seddon, Healthcare Keynote Speaker

Your group will be enthralled with the first-hand accounts of lessons learned in space by one of the first women to be invited into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut program. Dr. Seddon’s 30 days in space on Discovery and Columbia, time as a rescue helicopter pilot physician, experience as an emergency room physician, and published research make her presentations both credible and awe-inspiring.

With LifeWings, Dr. Seddon has helped many healthcare institutions dramatically improve patient safety and employee satisfaction. Her work with NASA, Vanderbilt University, and LifeWings has been featured in hundreds of publications including Time, The New York Times, National Public Radio, and Healthleaders. Her research has been published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition among others.

Dr. Seddon’s passionate discussions on a variety of healthcare related topics will provide your group with meaningful information that they can act upon in their day-to-day roles and inspire them to envision new directions and improvements for their organizations. Dr. Seddon will help make your event one your audience will deem exceptional.

Dr. Seddon is able to customize her work to your group’s unique perspective and challenges and she is accomplished in speaking to the following topics:

  • Teamwork

  • Communication

  • Error Prevention

  • Medical Aspects of Spaceflight

  • What Health Care can Learn from Aerospace

  • Women in Space

Watch a Video of Dr. Seddon

Dr. Seddon’s passionate discussions on a variety of healthcare related topics will provide your group with meaningful information that they can act upon in their day-to-day roles and inspire them to envision new directions and improvements for their organizations.

Dr. Seddon will help make your event one your audience will deem “extraordinary.”

Rhea's Bio 

Rhea Seddon, MD, is a popular speaker and a consultant on patient safety, teamwork and communication in healthcare and is a partner in LifeWings Partners LLC. She served as the Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group and was Assistant Professor for Medical Education and Administration at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine from 1996 until 2007.

While at Vanderbilt, she led an initiative aimed at improving patient safety and quality of care by the use of an aviation-based model of Crew Resource Management. She was involved in a variety of quality improvement efforts for the medical center. Co-author of the book, “Crew Resource Management: The Flight Plan for Lasting Change in Patient Safety”, Dr. Seddon serves on two Joint Commission committees addressing communication in hospitals. She now devotes her time to speaking and consulting.

Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Seddon spent 19 years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In 1978 she was selected as one of the first six women to enter the Astronaut Program. She flew aboard her first Shuttle flight, Discovery, in 1985, deployed two satellites, operated the Remote Manipulator Arm and performed the first echocardiography in space. She was selected to serve as a Mission Specialist on the first Shuttle flight dedicated entirely to the life sciences research, Spacelab Life Sciences 1 on Columbia, in 1991. In 1993, she was the Payload Commander in charge of all science activities on Spacelab Life Sciences 2 and performed the first animal dissections in space. This brought her total time in space to 30 days.

While at NASA she served in many roles including flying as a rescue helicopter physician for the first Shuttle flights and helping to develop the Shuttle Medical Kit and checklist for space medical operations. She was involved in recovery operations following the Challenger accident. Since leaving NASA, she has been appointed to numerous space advisory committees including several Institute of Medicine committees looking at Astronaut health. A recipient of many NASA and scientific awards, she was named as a Laurel Legend for her lifetime contributions to aviation by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine in 2004 and to the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005.

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in physiology, Dr. Seddon received her MD degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis where she completed her residency in General Surgery. She has performed research on the effects of nutrition in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. She served as an emergency physician part-time during her residency and her years at NASA.

  • IOM (Institute of Medicine) 2007 Letter Report: Review of NASA’s Space Flight Health Standards. Washington, DC. National Academies Press

  • Gaffney, D., Harden, S., & Seddon, R. Crew Resource Management: The Flight Plan for Lasting Change in Patient Safety. hcpro inc. 2005

  • IOM (Institute of Medicine) 2005. Bioastronautics Roadmap: A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space. Washington, DC. National Academies Press

  • IOM (Institute of Medicine) 2005. Interim Report on NASA’s Bioastronautics Critical Path Roadmap. Washington, DC. National Academies Press

  • Grogan EL, Stiles RA, France DJ, Speroff T, Morris JA, Jr., Nixon, B, Gaffney A, Seddon R, Pinson CW. The Impact of Aviation Based Teamwork Training on the Attitudes of Health Care Professionals. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2004, 199: vol 6, p843-848

  • IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2004. Review of NASA’s Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press

  • Kerwin, J., Seddon, R. Eating in Space – From an Astronaut’s Perspective. Nutrition 18:921-925, 2002

  • Young, L. R. & Seddon, R. (2000). Spacelab contributions to space life sciences. The Spacelab Accomplishments Forum. Proceedings of a forum held March 10-11, 1999, Washington, D.C. J. Emond, N. Bennett, D. McCauley, & K. Murphy, eds. NASA/CP2000-210332: 117-132.

  • Phillips, R., Fettman, M., Seddon, R. Practical and clinical nutritional concerns during spaceflight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 60 (5): 825S-830S, 1994

Previous Speaking Engagements 

  • NCSBN Attorney/Investigator Symposium, Santa Monica, CAMay 24, 2010 “Staying Cool: What Aviation Can Tell Us About Staying Calm Under Pressure”

  • PA/DC Nursing Education Technology Collaborative, Philadelphia PAMay 14, 2010, “What Healthcare Can Learn From NASA Simulation”

  • University Medical Center Health System, Lubbock, TXMay 3-4 2010, Leadership Development

  • The American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Key Biscayne, FLApril 29, 2010, Keynote address: “Keeping Our Patients Safe” –Lessons Learned from NASA”

  • Miami Children’s Hospital 2010 Annual Pediatric Postgraduate Program Miami, FL February 24, 2010, “Teamwork: Lessons Learned From Space and Aviation Applied to Modern Medicine”

  • International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare Phoenix, AZJanuary 25, 2010, “Staying Cool: Using Simulation to Take the Stress Out of Handling Critical Events”

  • 2010 NCSBN Institute of Regulatory Excellence Scottsdale, AZJanuary 19, 2010

  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Lubbock, TXOctober 16, 2009

  • Fall Training Conference – Inter-Professional Teamwork

  • Indiana University/Purdue University at Fort Wayne, Engineering Opportunity BanquetFebruary 27, 2009, Keynote Address: “A Scientist’s Travels in Space – and Beyond”

  • State University of New York, Stony Brook Hospital, series of lecturesFebruary 10-11, 2009

  • Sessions: Clinical Chiefs’ Forum; “Crew Resource Management in Intensive Care Units”; “Linking Teamwork Training to Process Improvement”; Administrative Grand Rounds on “What Leaders Must Do to Support Process Improvement”

  • International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare Annual Meeting, Lake Buena Vista, FLJanuary 14, 2009

  • Key Note Speaker: “Mock Rockets – Real Learning: Lessons Learned from NASA Simulation Systems

  • MAG Mutual Insurance CompanyNovember 13, 2008Session: “Teamwork in Healthcare”

  • High Point Regional Healthcare Center Physician DinnerJune 4, 2008Session: “Lessons Learned from NASA about Improving Patient Safety”

  • Middle Tennessee State University Leadership CourseMay 13, 2008Session: “Leadership in Healthcare – Lessons from NASA”

  • Oregon Patient Safety AllianceMay 7, 2008Session: “Improving Patient Safety – It’s Not Rocket Science!”

  • Crystal Cruise Lines Celebrity Speaker (Scheduled)June 12, 2008

  • High Point Regional Health System CME Presentation (Scheduled)June 4, 2008

  • Houston Hospice Butterfly Luncheon (Scheduled)April 30, 2008Session: “A Child of the Universe”

  • Nashville Adventure Science Center Space DayMarch 22, 2008Session: “An Astronaut’s Journey”

  • Ada County (Idaho) Medical Society Winter ClinicFebruary 17, 2008Session: “What Aviation Can Teach Us About Patient Safety” and “A Physician in Space”

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