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Distinguished Alumni Award - David Nielsen, MD

David R. Nielsen, MD, FACS

Dr. Nielsen spent his early clinical career in solo private practice as an otologic surgeon, and as senior consultant at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. He volunteered for 12 years educating school children about tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse prevention, and was appointed by the Arizona Governor to chair the Tobacco Use Prevention Advisory Committee. He served on the Arizona Medical Association Board of Directors as Vice Speaker and Speaker of the House of Delegates. He served as chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)’s Board of Governors, and completed his career in 2015 as the Executive Vice President and CEO for 13 years, directing the Academy’s education, research, health policy and advocacy, and member services activities for its 12,000 members.

Dr. Nielsen was elected President of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), chair of its CEO Component Group, and represented CMSS at the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement (PCPI) for many years. He recently completed his tenure on the Executive Committee of the PCPI, and as the Chair of the PCPI Foundation Board, and assisted its transition to a new governance and leadership structure. He served two terms as chair of the Specialty Society CEO Coalition (S2C2).

His career focused heavily on quality improvement, patient safety, and medical error reduction. He presented on quality initiatives to Centers for Medicare& Medicaid Services,  Pay for Performance Summit, American Medical Association, America’s Health Insurance Plans, PCPI, American Association of Medical Society Executives, National Committee for Quality Assurance, and as guest lecturer at many other national and state societies and academic institutions. He is the author of numerous chapters on evidence-based performance measurement for several text books. Dr. Nielsen and his wife, Becky, now live in Mesa, AZ, near their four children and 13 grandchildren.