VUSM prepared alum for leadership roles
Jeff Sperring M.D., ‘95, took on the role of chief executive officer of Seattle Children’s Hospital in May, arriving armed with great memories and lessons learned from his days at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
“Vanderbilt was the perfect balance of high educational expectations but also the sense of being a part of a team and a community, and that students were important and supported,” Sperring said in a telephone interview from his new office in Seattle. “Vanderbilt consistently ranked highly in student ratings for their medical education experiences—I’ve taken that through the rest of my career in a leadership role. I want people to have experiences and a level of engagement that motivates them and makes them want to do better.”
Growing up in Atlanta, Sperring never had a deciding moment or influence to practice medicine. “I always thought about the opportunity to help people make a difference in life and I wanted to use science to be able to do that.”
Sperring earned his Bachelor of Science in biology from Emory University in Atlanta. From there he went to Vanderbilt, where in his third year he fell in love with pediatrics. “Taking care of kids who are severely or chronically ill sort of stuck out to me,” he said.
After medical school, Sperring’s career took a rapid trajectory rising through the ranks of medicine. He did his residency in general pediatrics at Naval Medical Center in San Diego, where he also met his future wife, Amie, a naval nurse. Then he served three years as a pediatrician in the United States Navy Medical Corps in Twentynine Palms, California.
In 2002, Sperring went to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health where he formed the pediatric hospitalist program. Working alongside the CEO at Riley on several projects, he was named chief medical officer in 2009, and then CEO a couple of years later.
“I loved being a pediatrician because I felt like I could have an impact on kids and kids’ health, but that was 20-25 patients a day,” he said. “Leading a children’s hospital, I get to think about how I can have an impact on children’s health globally and work with thousands of team members who are dedicated to making a difference.”