Meet David Austin Hudson, MD, with New Vista Community Mental Health Center

Hometown: Born in Hazard, KY and grew up in Lexington, Kentucky
Family: My wife and I have been married for 19 years and we have two great kids.
Hobbies: Making “Dad Jokes,” exercising and driving my kids to their activities.
Education – BS in Biology, Medical School, Psychiatry Residencies all at the University of Kentucky – Go CATS!
Three words my coworkers use to describe me: Caring, diligent, approachable.
Three items on my desk: An hourglass, M&M plushie, tumbler filled with green tea.
Outside the office, you’ll likely find me: At Costco.
Favorite Vacation spot: Hilton Head
Way to unwind after a long day: Being greeted enthusiastically by our Golden Retriever “Boone.”
Favorite snack: Movie popcorn

Medical News: Why did you become a doctor? 

David Austin Hudson, MD: I was inspired by my mother who worked as a nurse her entire career and modeled a passion for serving others. 

MN: Why did you choose this specialty?

DH: Young people never cease to amaze and inspire me with their resilience and energy. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) result in significantly increased risks for substance use, mental and physical health problems, educational struggles, employment, and stability of relationships throughout adulthood.

In working with adults, the lifelong impact of their early traumatic experiences is undeniable and seeing that firsthand motivated me to intervene and work with children. Early intervention for children that experience violence, neglect and instability can truly alter their entire life trajectory. I am motivated daily to help families recognize the impact of these experiences and work with them to build nurturing relationships and healthy environments to help heal and to prevent further ACEs. Helping kids and teens process and navigate their difficult life experiences in a way that fosters hope for their futures is my personal mission.

MN: How did you end up at New Vista as the CMO?

DH: I loved my Community Mental Health Center rotations during my psychiatry residency training and felt the calling to start my career as a child psychiatrist at New Vista directly out of residency. I have been practicing in our Madison County office since 2009.

Three years ago, I was asked to serve as a clinical lead for medical services at New Vista and enjoyed the opportunity advocating for improvements in both patient care and service delivery. In November 2020, Dee Werline, CEO, offered me the position of CMO with the goal of representing the needs of the people we serve through the perspective of the psychiatric providers and members of the medical service team.

MN: What is a typical day like for you?

DH: One new child psychiatric evaluation and around 12 follow up appointments daily intermixed with a wide variety of Zoom meetings served up with a generous helping of emails from various departments within the organization.

MN: What is the most challenging problem you face today? 

DH: Meeting the growing mental health needs of our communities with limited resources. The impact of substance use in our region cannot be overstated and the collateral damage done to our state’s children and families will continue to reverberate for generations unless we can make real changes.

Understanding and addressing the causes for substance use, which often starts during adolescence, will require a better understanding of biopsychosocial risk factors, improved identification and treatment delivery, and investments in forming and maintaining healthy connections across the client’s lifespan.

MN: What’s one thing your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

DH: I have been lifting weights consistently since I was fifteen, the surprise is they would never guess by my physique!

MN: What’s the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you

DH: “There are only two things you really have to get right, who you marry and what you do for a living.” Dr. Brian Ellis, during an Area Health Education Center rotation during medical school.

MN: If you weren’t a doctor, what would you be? 

DH: Public school science teacher or a National Park Ranger.

MN: Who are your heroes in healthcare? 

DH: Dr. Robert Aug, an absolutely brilliant child psychiatrist and professor at the University of Kentucky Department of Psychiatry who is a true polymath with the quick wit of a professional stand-up comedian.