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Leading with leadership

Alumnus and spouse establish endowed lecture fund to help future physicians become effective leaders

Date Posted: Feb 18, 2021


Hudson, Randall and Doranne 2.jpg
Doranne and Randall "Randy" Hudson

There is a graceful harmony at play as Doranne and Randall “Randy” Hudson, MD’78, lead by example, endowing a new fund at UMass Medical School to foster leadership among medical students.

“Leadership is an unsung characteristic, yet it crops up almost everywhere in a person’s environment,” Dr. Hudson said. “I firmly believe that every medical student needs to be cognizant of the characteristics of leadership, how they can develop their own leadership capabilities and integrate that into their daily practice.”

Dr. Hudson is an anesthesiologist and internist who focused his career on critical care, both taking care of patients and eventually leading organizations. After graduating from UMass Medical School and completing two residencies, Dr. Hudson worked in critical care for several years at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.

The Hudsons met at Duke University where they both did their undergraduate work. Mrs. Hudson went on to earn an MBA at Harvard University and joined Gillette Corp. in Boston, where she worked on brand management and new product launches. In 1988, this husband-and-wife team accepted new opportunities in the Midwest: he joined the medical staff at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., to focus on cardiac anesthesia and critical care, and she took a senior management position at Hallmark, Inc.

At Saint Luke’s, Dr. Hudson helped to build an anesthesia-based critical care system that now can treat 50 to 60 critically ill patients daily. He was also called on twice, during times of crisis and change, to become chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and lead its anesthesiology residency program. During his second time as chair, he hired nearly 30 clinicians in response to a restructuring of the department, which became part of a larger multispecialty group, and to integrate critical care anesthesiology. It was these experiences, he said, that concentrated his thoughts on leadership issues in medicine.

"I felt UMass Medical School did an extraordinary job while I was there ... The state of Massachusetts invested in me, and I wanted to give back."

–Randall Hudson, MD'78

Meanwhile, Mrs. Hudson rose to become a senior vice president at Hallmark, leading a $2 billion business unit for the company. She then launched a second career as an educator, focused on leadership development, and became an executive-in-residence and associate teaching professor at the Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She also serves on the university’s board of trustees.

Together, the Hudsons became successful leaders, and more importantly, they learned how to mentor others to become better leaders.

“The characteristics of leadership are teachable and learnable,” Dr. Hudson said. “It’s taught at every business school. In fact, Doranne developed a leadership program specifically for the St. Luke’s system to teach physicians how to be leaders.”

The Hudsons give back to their communities in many ways, often focusing on empowering young people. Endowing a leadership program for future generations of physicians was an idea several years in the making, and choosing UMMS as the host institution was an easy decision, according to Dr. Hudson.

“I felt UMass Medical School did an extraordinary job while I was there. It was a formative experience that helped me make the right choices,” he said. “The state of Massachusetts invested in me, and I wanted to give back.”

The Hudson Leadership Development Fund will begin by supporting an annual lecture for medical students about to transition from the classroom to the clinic. The Hudsons will be the inaugural speakers for the lecture, which will hopefully occur sometime in the fall of 2021, depending on the status of the pandemic.

The lecture is a “beachhead for leadership” Dr. Hudson said, and he will work closely with UMMS to extend the concept, perhaps to shared readings, small-group workshops and seminars on the topic.

“Dr. Hudson is right on point with this,” said Anne C. Larkin, MD, vice provost for educational affairs and associate professor of surgery. “For many of us when we graduate from medical school, we really are unprepared for the leadership roles we are thrust into. We are taught a lot about science and a lot about taking care of patients, but we are not taught extensively about how to be an effective leader.”

UMMS currently has several courses with elements of leadership included in the curriculum, Dr. Larkin said, however it is an area that needs more attention.

“The Hudsons’ support will help us enhance our curriculum and broaden the horizons for our students,” she said. “What’s also so exciting about this is having both Dr. and Mrs. Hudson play an active role, sharing their considerable experiences for the benefit of our students. They are committing their intellect, as well as their financial resources, and that is so impressive.”