Honoring Dr. Patricia Dawson
The Cross Cultural Health Care Program (CCHCP) and the Seattle community recently lost a leader in the field of health care equity. Dr. Patricia (Pat) Dawson, MD, FACS, PhD, one of the early visionaries involved in the creation of CCHCP and a board member for almost 20 years, died on December 13, 2020. Pat was an accomplished breast cancer surgeon, and over her 40-year clinical career was admired not only for her skills as a surgeon but also her dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusion in health care. Pat began her medical career at Group Health (now Kaiser Permanente), first as a surgeon and then as the Director of Medical Staff Diversity, and later joined Swedish Hospital. She became the medical director at the Swedish Cancer Institute (2004-2012), and the medical director for the Breast Program at the institute (2008-2018). In 2018 she joined UW Medicine to launch its Office of Healthcare Equity. In addition to earning her medical degree from New Jersey Medical School in 1977, Pat completed a master’s degree in organizational development, certificates in Gestalt therapy and diversity management, a certificate in medical management, and a PhD in human and organizational systems. Pat served on many task forces dealing with ethics, equity, diversity, and discrimination for many organizations, including the King County Medical Society and the Washington State Medical Society, among others. In addition to serving on the CCHCP board, she also served on the boards of Bastyr University, UW Women’s Center, and the Seattle Public Library Foundation.
Pat was also a writer, and in 1998 she published “Forged by the Knife: The Experience of Surgical Residency from the Perspective of a Woman of Color.”
CCHCP was graced by her leadership and her vision for social justice and equity in health care. She was a strong supporter of CCHCP’s pioneering program – Bridging the Gap – to professionally train medical interpreters. Pat also was one of the developers of our cultural competency/equity and inclusion training programs, and our Connecting to Care: Patient Guide program. She was a mentor to so many of us at CCHCP, and always found time to provide guidance and support for all our programs. We are dedicated to carrying forward her legacy and her vision for years to come. One way in which we are honoring her is by naming our scholarship program the Patricia Dawson CCHCP Scholarship. Our scholarship program, which we launched in 2020, covers the tuition cost of our Bridging the Gap medical interpreter program. We hope to expand the scholarship in years to come, as we continue to build on the legacy that Pat established.