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Rhea Seddon, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Rhea Seddon is a woman of many firsts. One of only six women in her medical school class of one hundred, she was the first woman ever accepted to the surgery residency program at her university. In 1978 she was one of the first six women accepted into the Astronaut Corps, and when she married fellow Astronaut Capt. Robert “Hoot” Gibson, they became the first active Astronauts to wed. Together they produced the first official “Astrotots” (children born to two Astronauts). In addition to her space career, Dr. Seddon’s life experiences have led her from surgeon to licensed private pilot, to healthcare executive, entrepreneur, author, president of a large women’s charity group, and now, professional speaker.


Entering the Astronaut Corps in 1978, she served the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for nineteen years, spending thirty days in space aboard three Space Shuttle flights.


After leaving NASA in 1997, Dr. Seddon was appointed the Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt University Medical Group in Nashville, where she focused on innovative systems and methodologies for improving teamwork in healthcare. Eleven years later, she continued that work as a founding partner of LifeWings Partners, LLC, which teaches those concepts to healthcare institutions across the United States.


She is a member of both the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame and Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame, and her significant contributions to aeronautics and science were recognized in 2015 when she became the eighth woman inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. That year, she also published her autobiography, Go For Orbit, and in 2016 she was awarded the Independent Book Publishers Association Ben Franklin Gold Award for Best Autobiography/Memoir.  


Based on her diverse life experiences, Dr. Seddon enjoys sharing the wisdom gained and lessons learned as she speaks nationally and internationally about teamwork, leadership, and inspiring others to recognize and act upon life’s many opportunities.

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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.”

  • 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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