After a career of service to others, Raiford to retireAug. 31, 2022, 5:31 PM
by John Howser
A chance opportunity to visit a friend in Nashville and give a lecture led David Raiford, MD, to Vanderbilt University Medical Center more than three decades ago. He has been here ever since.
After a career of unwavering service to his patients, colleagues, and trainees, Raiford, chief of Clinical Staff for VUMC and senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs for Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM), will retire on June 30, 2023.
Raiford will step down from his role as senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs on Dec. 31, 2022; however, he will remain in his role as the health system’s chief of Clinical Staff until the end of the current fiscal year. Succession plans for both of Raiford’s leadership roles are underway.
In addition to stepping away from his responsibilities as a Medical Center senior leader, Raiford, who is also professor of Medicine and professor of Medical Education and Administration, will retire from his clinical practice where he continues to care for patients, many of whom are long term, with hepatobiliary diseases or who have had liver transplants.
“Throughout his career, Dr. Raiford has made remarkable contributions to VUMC’s growth and success while serving in a diverse range of leadership roles across the health system and School of Medicine. David is widely regarded by his patients and colleagues, as well as our students and trainees, for his clinical acumen, wisdom and compassion,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer for VUMC and Dean of VUSM. “I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked so closely with him for many years and want to express my sincere appreciation to David for his steadfast service to our institution.”
As a result of that fateful trip to VUMC to visit his friend and colleague Raymond Burk, MD, former director of the Division of Gastroenterology, Raiford, along with his wife, Lisa, was recruited to VUMC from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Hospital in 1991 to help establish an interdisciplinary program in hepatology and liver transplantation. He joined with C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer, who was also recruited to VUMC the year before. The two, along with J. Kelly Wright, MD, professor of Surgery, Ellen Hunter, MD, and Richard Lopez, MD, were the founders of liver transplantation at Vanderbilt.
“I was excited about the prospects of getting to do something here for the first time that I had experience with at Johns Hopkins. It was fun to be in on the ground floor of something and to be entrusted with being the medical director for the Hepatology program,” Raiford recalled.
While Raiford was busily caring for hepatobiliary and liver transplant patients, his calm demeanor, skills at diplomacy, commitment to task, and the ability to successfully lead others in difficult situations was being noticed by his colleagues and superiors. His insights, along with his ability to be firm yet polite, set him on the path of increasingly responsible clinical and administrative leadership roles.
Commensurate with advancements in his responsibilities, and prior to his current duties, Raiford served as director of the Liver Service, clinical director of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Practice, associate dean for Faculty Affairs, assistant and associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs, chief compliance officer and chief of staff for the Health System.
“Having joined VUMC about the same time and partnering with Dr. Raiford to establish the Liver Transplant Program, we’ve traveled many miles together. From those early days, David has always been someone I can rely on,” said Pinson. “I want to thank him for his service and partnership over the past three plus decades. In addition to thousands of patients he has personally cared for, his impact on overall patient care for our health system will be long-lasting.”
In his role as senior associate dean for Faculty Affairs, Raiford led a multi-year effort to review, rewrite and reimplement VUMC’s Conflict of Interest Policy. Since 2016, he has served as chief of Clinical Staff for VUMC, providing administrative, clinical and programmatic leadership to ensure the delivery of world class care for patients while overseeing the governance process for the medical staff.
“My truest passion and calling is to be a doctor and help people. The greatest sense of reward that I have is to be allowed to continue to take care of my patients, one person at a time, and also influence the environment here for each and every patient we serve as an organization,” he said.
“Pretty much every day since I turned 18 years old I’ve been going full speed,” he said. “I have a lot of things I enjoy and want to do outside of medicine, and I don’t know how to be partly committed to the care of patients, so I feel like it’s time to close this chapter and move on to other things.”