Rhea Seddon, MD is the former Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville, Tennessee and Assistant Professor of Medical Administration and Education at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. While at Vanderbilt, she led an initiative aimed at improving patient safety and quality of care by the use of an aviation-based model of Crew Resource Management. She was involved in a variety of quality improvement efforts for the medical center. Co-author of the book, "Crew Resource Management: The Flight Plan for Lasting Change in Patient Safety", Dr. Seddon serves on two Joint Commission committees addressing communication in hospitals. She now devotes her time to speaking and consulting. 

Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Seddon spent 19 years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In 1978 she was selected as one of the first six women to enter the Astronaut Program. She flew aboard her first Shuttle flight in 1985, deployed two satellites, operated the Remote Manipulator Arm and performed the first echocardiography in space. She was selected to serve as a Mission Specialist on the first Shuttle flight dedicated entirely to the life sciences research, Spacelab Life Sciences 1, in 1991. In 1993, she was the Payload Commander in charge of all science activities on Spacelab Life Sciences 2 and performed the first animal dissections in space. This brought her total time in space to 30 days.

While at NASA she served in many roles including flying as a rescue helicopter physician for the first Shuttle flights and helping to develop the Shuttle Medical Kit and checklist for space medical operations. She was involved in recovery operations following the Challenger accident. Since leaving NASA, she has been appointed to numerous space advisory committees including several Institute of Medicine committees looking at Astronaut health. A recipient of many NASA and scientific awards, she was named as a Laurel Legend for her lifetime contributions to aviation by Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine in 2004 and to the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005.

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in physiology, Dr. Seddon received her MD degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis where she completed her residency in General Surgery. She has performed research on the effects of nutrition in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy. She served as an emergency physician part-time during her residency and her years at NASA.


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