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Biography of T. Douglas Lawson, PhD

Doug Lawson, PhD | Biography

Doug Lawson, PhD has built a nearly 20-year career in healthcare administration in several executive leadership roles. Recognized for his patient-centric focus, Dr. Lawson has established a solid track record of leading hospitals and vastly improving the patient experience.  

Since 2018 Dr. Lawson has served as Chief Executive Officer of St. Luke’s Health and as Senior Vice President of Operations, for CommonSpirit Health (St. Luke’s Health’s parent ministry). He currently leads a team of more than 20,000 employees, providers, caregivers, medical staff and volunteers in an integrated health network of 16 acute care hospitals, more than 2,000 employed and aligned providers, and more than 270 access points serving Greater Houston, East Texas, and the Brazos Valley. 

As a testament to Dr. Lawson’s leadership, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center, which serves as the teaching hospital for Baylor College of Medicine, has consistently ranked as a Best Hospital on U.S. News & World Report’s annual list and is among the Top 50 Hospitals nationally in 2022-2023 in six specialties: Cancer, Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Gastroenterology and GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Neurology and Neurosurgery, and Urology.

St. Luke’s Health is also committed to the highest patient safety for all of our facilities across our Texas division as measured by Leapfrog. As of April 2022, St. Luke’s facilities improved its safety ratings with four facilities receiving an “A” top safety rating and 90% of its facilities receiving an A and B rating. This is a remarkable demonstration of St. Luke’s commitment to high-quality and safe care, especially during a global pandemic.

Dr. Lawson began his health care career heading the cancer program at Scott & White Memorial Hospital and Clinic in Temple, Texas. He also served in Kansas City with Saint Luke’s Health System and then as COO of Cabell-Huntington Hospital in Huntington, West Virginia. Dr. Lawson returned to Texas in 2007 as President of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine. In 2012, he took on the Chief Operating Officer role at Baylor University Medical Center; and in 2015 was named President of the center and of the North Texas Central Region. 

One of Dr. Lawson’s primary tenets is the value of empathetic communication. His deep understanding of the patient experience arose from his own personal health crisis when, at the age of 27 and running the cancer program at Scott & White, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He received treatment there over the next year and has since been cancer-free. He credits that life-saving experience as a pivotal moment in his career.

“As a patient, I experienced first-hand the connection between the policies and procedures we put in place as administrators and the direct impact those policies and procedures have on patients who entrust the system with their care.”

Living our mission everyday—to make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all—is Dr. Lawson’s “true north.” Under Dr. Lawson’s leadership, St. Luke’s Health became a founding member in 2021 of the PATH Collaborative, a partnership of medical and community-based organizations in the Greater Houston Area to identify and assist trafficked individuals in Texas. So far, more than 9,000 St. Luke’s Health employees have been trained to provide care to victims of human trafficking. 

Dr. Lawson currently serves on a variety of boards, and most recently was elected as President of the Board of the American Heart Association (AHA) for the Greater Houston Division. As AHA Division President, Dr. Lawson engages board members in addressing disparities and transforming health care for the Gulf Coast community. He is also a board member of the Texas Hospital Association (THA), where he works in collaboration with other members on key federal health policy issues.

Among the honors he has received, Dr. Lawson was named a Most Admired CEO in Texas in 2021 by the Houston Business Journal and received the 2020 Exceptional Leader Award from Texas CEO Magazine. In 2021, he was presented with a Special Recognition Award from the Latino Learning Center for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In early 2022, the Texas Hospital Association presented Dr. Lawson with its highest honor: the Earl M. Collier Award for Distinguished Health Care Administration. The career achievement award recognizes executives who have set themselves apart through their contributions to the healthcare industry.

A fifth-generation Texan, Dr. Lawson attended Texas A&M University, where he played football while earning an B.S. in political science. He went on to earn a Master of Science degree in health care administration from Trinity University, and a Ph.D. in Leadership from Dallas Baptist University.

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  • Ensure Equitable Access to Care

  • Build and Maintain a Culture of Empathetic Communications 

  • Deliver High-Value, High-Quality Care

U.S. News & World Report

U.S News & World Report has recognized Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center as one of the best hospitals for several specialties.