Dr. Eric Dickson didn’t start out planning to work in healthcare – he wanted to be a helicopter pilot. But when it turned out he was too tall for that program with the U.S. Army, Dickson instead trained as an Army medic and respiratory therapist. “I just fell in love with taking care of people,” he states.
From there, the Burlington, Mass. native attended University of Massachusetts Medical School, then put his skills to work at a hospital system in Iowa. He returned to Massachusetts to work for UMass Memorial Health Care, first in the Emergency Department and Medical Group, ultimately taking the helm as president & CEO of the system in 2013.
Dickson shared some of these lesser-known facts of his professional history, along with other important thoughts and observations about our healthcare system, during MHA’s inaugural “Executive Insights” event, a one-on-one half-hour chat with MHA president & CEO Steve Walsh. Attendees also got to ask Dickson questions as part of the session, moderated by Walsh.
The key to his success, Dickson said – and his two-ingredient recipe for success in general – is simple. “I think it comes down to two things: You have to deliver results for your organization, and you have to treat people with respect,” he said. Dickson also highlighted the importance of having passions outside of healthcare to promote one’s own wellbeing. “I think it’s very important for all of us, especially for those who work in healthcare,” he said. “And I think we’re all caregivers, regardless of the role.”
For himself, that passion is farming, including breeding and raising horses and making his own maple syrup and jam. Just speaking about it put a smile on Dickson’s face.