Health Care Professional of the Year Winner: Brenda Baird Simpson, CHI St. Vincent Health System

Health Care Professional of the Year Winner: Brenda Baird Simpson, CHI St. Vincent Health System
Brenda Baird Simpson

Brenda Baird Simpson
CHI St. Vincent Health System
Little Rock

As a high schooler in Martin, Tennessee, Brenda Baird Simpson caught a glimpse of the vocation that would define her professional life.

“I chose health care as a profession as I had a career interest in helping others,” she said. “I chose the nursing profession specifically as the result of a relationship I had, as a high school student, with a neighbor who was a nurse leader.

“Her passion and quest for excellence as a nurse and nurse leader at a small community hospital was evident. She encouraged me with her stories, her determination, and by providing me knowledge of the many career choices available within nursing.”

In her distinguished career at CHI St. Vincent Health System in Little Rock, Simpson has not only remembered that example, she’s passed it on to the many nurses who have benefitted from her experience and mentorship. These lessons were learned through experience in her various nursing positions and formally in her current role of senior vice president/chief nursing officer.

“I never specifically intended to become a nurse leader, but rather found myself privileged to have excellent mentors that took the time to teach, encourage and mentor me in nursing and health care leadership,” Simpson said. “I continue in my current field as it challenges me daily and the rewards are many. It is an honor to daily represent the many nurses in diverse roles who work tirelessly on behalf of others.”

Simpson may not have campaigned for her current role, but after 12 years it’s hard to imagine the health system’s culture without her influence. For her, the mission is clear.

“I am committed to creating an environment that supports nurses,” she said. “My role includes fostering a professional practice environment where evidence-based practice is implemented, professional development is encouraged, and nurses are empowered to make decisions that affect their practice. My role includes collaborating with physicians and the executive team to achieve the quality, financial and strategic goals of the organization.

“The most challenging aspect of my role is developing effective strategies to mentor bedside clinical nurses who are all leaders as well as other nurse leader roles. Nurses possess valuable insight and can provide unique contributions to the health care team to improve and achieve quality and safety outcomes for those served. Aggressively recruiting the best nurses and developing nurses more effectively while providing the needed resources is an ongoing challenge.”

Simpson said being recognized as a Health Care Hero was “humbling in light of so many exceptional health care leaders that are present in Arkansas,” and she was quick to give credit to the many who helped in her career.

“The greatest reward of being a nurse is the opportunity to serve and make some measure of difference during the most meaningful moments of others’ lives,” she said. “I have had the privilege to work with some of the most intellectually and spiritually gifted co-workers in many different roles and from diverse backgrounds, all of whom are dedicated to making a positive impact on those served in our communities. I am grateful that the profession of nursing has provided me opportunities for lifelong learning.”


» Native of Martin, Tenn.

» Educated at the University of Tennessee

» Chief nursing officer for 12 years