Flinn-Brown Fellow Nicholas Vasquez sees firsthand how policy impacts health

July 28, 2022

By Jessica Vaile

Fellow Nicholas Vasquez Headshot

Nicholas Vasquez 

(Chandler, 2016)

Emergency Physician,
Envision Healthcare

Twitter | LinkedIn

1. Can you please describe your work and how public policy impacts how you manage your organization?

I’m an emergency physician so much of what gets decided in public policy shows up in my patient population.  Insurance coverage decisions, rental assistance, food insecurity, and evictions are among a few of the many issues we’ve had to deal with.  Whatever the needs of a community are, they show up as my patient population.  Of course, COVID and the policy around that has been difficult.

I often like to say I have a job for 5 bad reasons: bad luck, bad decision, bad habits, bad genes, and bad policy.  Most policy makers believe they are doing good, and to be fair policy is complicated. What I’ve learned is that human beings are designed to survive even in extreme circumstances.  When facing scarcity (e.g., poverty, hunger, homelessness, etc.) they resort to very short-term thinking and decision making.  What I wish public policy would be better designed to do was help people resolve, even just a little, their scarcities. Then you might see people thinking a bit longer term.

2. Do you have a favorite quote that is meaningful to you?

I may not save a life every day, but I can touch one.

3. Is there a book you would recommend to the Fellows?

Yes, I would recommend “The Righteous Mind” by Johnathan Haidt.

4. How has the Fellows Network been useful to you?

The Fellow’s Network was helpful in my role as Chair of the Vitalyst Health Foundation.  The network was invaluable in helping us find potential board members and staff.  

5. What do you see as potential opportunities strengthening civic health in Arizona?

I believe that with the American Rescue Plan Act money we can actually begin to explore policy solutions that were never considered.  My hope would be for high quality pre-K. There is a direct link between education and health.  Giving kids who are not blessed with good fortune a good start would go a long way to resolving some of our entrenched social issues.

If you missed a Fellows Spotlight, you can view them on the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership website now.

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