Whether you knew him for 10 minutes, 10 years, or all his life, to know Chad Epps (Fig. 1) was to feel individually heard, cared for, appreciated, and loved. He had a way of saying “you’re probably right,” in a manner that was validating, while maintaining an invitation to allow for other possibilities. Underlying it all was a special vulnerability unique to Chad that made it feel like he was shining a light on you at the same time that you were lifting him up. Chad's journey in healthcare simulation touched countless lives in his role as a mentor, educator, leader, collaborator, and friend; here, we highlight Chad's lasting impact with which we all stand upon today.
MENTORING FUTURE LEADERS
As a medical student at the Medical College of Georgia, Chad took advantage of a free trip to New York City (NYC) provided by his parents to interview with Mount Sinai, although he had not intended on doing his residency in NYC. His 1-day interview experience changed his mind and career trajectory. As an anesthesiology resident at Mount Sinai, he was charismatic, confident, engaging, and funny—earning the title as “the most quoted resident in the program.” Chad was a superb mentor to students and residents, never losing his southern charm despite living in NYC. After residency, Chad became a simulation fellow at Mount Sinai where he proved to be a dynamic, innovative, and empathic educator. Chad's career unsurprisingly took off, developing simulation programs, helping set standards in the field, and bringing the next generation of simulation educators under his wing. During the next 15 years of his career, previous mentors became his mentees.
EDUCATING FOR IMPACT
As an associate professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) starting in 2007, Chad's passion for healthcare simulation education led to the integration of simulation courses into multiple healthcare programs at UAB. In 2015, in his role as Associate Director in the Office of Interprofessional Simulation for Innovative Clinical Practice, he helped establish the infrastructure for simulation spanning the campus and entire health system. His work laid the foundation for the UAB Simulation Consortium to become an internationally accredited simulation center. In 2016, Chad was recruited to the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center where he served as Executive Director of the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation leading the expansion of interprofessional education and simulation across the academic campus.
Chad's passion for leadership was a testament to his commitment and dedication to the field. In 10 years of leadership through the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH), he served as Chair of Accreditation (2013–2014), Governance (2019–2020), and Nominations (2019–2020). While on the SSH Board of Directors (2015–2017) and as SSH President (2016), Chad addressed challenges with an innovative, inclusive, and goal-oriented approach. Chad led the collaboration with the INACSL (International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning) and ASPE (Association for Standardized Patient Educators) to create the SSH-INACSL-ASPE Regional Workshops. In recognition of his career contributions to healthcare simulation, Chad was inducted into the SSH Academy of Fellows in 2019. Despite his incredible tenure as an SSH leader, he would frequently attribute achievements to others, preferring to celebrate the successes of his colleagues.
COLLABORATING THROUGH GLOBAL OUTREACH
Collaborations came naturally to Chad. He was eager to learn about people, their customs, and their culture, which led him to great insights into how to create successful endeavors around the globe. He had the ability to quickly align efforts with local customs and needs. He was part of developing and launching the first simulation center directors' course in China conducting programs in Guangzhou and Shenzhen in 2019 via a collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh and University of Miami. Chad was an editor of SSH's first textbook, “Defining Excellence in Healthcare Simulation,” that brought together more than 130 simulationists worldwide to disseminate their knowledge collectively.1 He was President of the Global Network for Simulation in Healthcare (2019–2020) as a means to build connections globally. His nonassuming leadership style had a significant impact around the world, forging relationships in China, Australia, India, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Singapore, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Ireland that formed the foundation for future advancements in healthcare simulation.
FRIENDSHIP PERSONIFIED: WHAT MADE CHAD CHAD?
Chad became an inspirational force globally as he advocated for simulation-based education. His influence was not just in his knowledge, passion, and presence, but because all of this was wonderfully packaged in a warm and caring personality. He was a model for others in emotional and cultural intelligence and inclusivity. He encouraged and nurtured the strengths of anyone whom he encountered. He was a dedicated and loyal friend who made a point of being available when you needed him the most. Above all, he loved his wife, his children, and God; so much that when he spoke about them, you could feel the passion, joy, and endearment in his voice. Although it will be difficult to make the transition to past tense, there will always be a living presence in his exceptional legacy.
The authors thank Deborah Epps, loving wife of Chad Epps, for her review and helpful comments on this article.
1. Palaganas JC, Maxworthy J, Epps C, Mancini ME. Defining Excellence in Simulation Programs
. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer; 2015.