When he played running back at Dartmouth, Bob Higgins’ specialties were picking up tough first downs and doing whatever was needed to prepare his team for their upcoming opponent.
A knee injury halfway through his college career forced him to imagine life after sport and allowed him an opportunity to double down on academics. Higgins’ father was a doctor and his professional calling was clear (listen to the full story here). So when his playing career was over, he entered medical school at Yale University School of Medicine where his specialties included a passion for medicine, a desire to serve, and a football player’s work ethic.
His professional career began in Detroit, where he was the director of heart and lung transplantation at the Henry Ford Hospital. After countless accomplishments in Detroit (which includes leading the transplant team that performed the first lung transplant in Southeast Michigan), Higgins eventually moved on to The Ohio State University, where he was a professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery, as well as surgeon-in-chief and director of the Comprehensive Transplant Cernter at Wexner Medical Center.
His success in Columbus brought him national attention. His career was just getting started.
Higgins soon ventured back east to assume the distinguished role of Director of the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. By this time, his impact in medicine has both broadened and deepened. He was leading others in the greater conversation of diversity and inclusion. He looked closely at the under-appreciated corners of the medical world, including racial disparities in outcomes after surgery and transplantation. And he had shoulder a deep appreciation for leading and mentoring others. “Leadership requires followers,” he often acknowledges, adding that “it is a humbling and meaningful responsibility.”
Recently, Dr. Higgins was named President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA – one of the most innovative and respected hospitals in the world.
A week or two before this recent announcement, we had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Higgins on the Good Athlete Podcast.
During our conversation, you will hear more about the quality of the man more than the excellence of the surgeon. You will hear his clear appreciation for his family and his amazing wife, Molly. In this episode, you can hear the heart behind the leader who just happens to be at the forefront of cardiac surgery.
While his professional accomplishments are inspiring, his impact is greater than any one moment. In his wake there are many lives he has both saved and inspired. He treats patients, of course, but he also leads leaders. His impact endures.