Certificant Profile – Diana Anderson

Diana Anderson, MD, AIA, ACHA
Principal, Jacobs
Neurology Fellow, VA Boston Health System
Boston, Massachusetts

How has ACHA certification enhanced your career in healthcare architecture and/or design?
ACHA certification represents a known high standard of knowledge and skillset, creating trust amongst clients and colleagues. Perhaps more importantly, this certification allows the opportunity for lifelong mentorship and learning. The opportunity to work, learn and create alongside like-minded professionals and thought leaders who collectively understand the built environment as a parameter of care has been both career-affirming and inspiring! ACHA offers the potential to make a positive, long-lasting contribution within a professional discipline.

What would you say to anyone interested in the field?
Healthcare architecture represents a truly unique convergence of the design and health arenas and welcomes hybrid models, with much opportunity for innovation and creative thinking. As healthcare architects, our moral imperative to create spaces which heal and do no harm presents a valued responsibility to the domains of public health, architecture, medical care and design. We have a unique opportunity to impact those who access built space now, in addition to future generations.

What led you to becoming ACHA certified?
It was important for me to obtain certification in order to further develop my specialization within architecture. The Tradewell Fellowship program provided a unique and collaborative forum with clients, mentors and thought leaders — many of whom I aspired to and were ACHA certified. It was through the fellowship that I met and worked with Kirk Hamilton and Charles Cadenhead, two important mentors who helped shape my goals and direct my interests for a multidimensional career in design, research and patient care. I am grateful to all the mentors I have had the opportunity to meet and I would encourage healthcare architects to provide mentorship to others — sharing our experiences and knowledge to guide others will foster growth for the entire field and create long lasting benefits.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you personally or your practice?
We have all been affected by COVID-19, a pandemic which has created isolating and uncertain times. This health crisis has also yielded a renewed interest in healthcare design subjects and I have been inspired by the work of my colleagues in providing public health guidance in the realm of architecture. As a geriatrician and healthcare architect, I have had opportunities to participate in thinking about the future of nursing home and long term care design, an area which I think is in need of innovation. The pandemic has highlighted in new ways the built environment as a determinant of health, and I am encouraged by the focus on designing for pandemic preparedness and overall resiliency in our future work.

About You

Master of Architecture, McGill University
Doctor of Medicine, University of Toronto

Diana Anderson, MD, M.Arch, is a healthcare architect and a board-certified internist. She completed her medical residency training at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Irving Medical Center. As a “dochitect”, Diana combines educational and professional experience in both medicine and architecture. She has worked on hospital design projects globally and is widely published in both architectural and medical journals, books and the popular press. She is a frequent speaker about the impacts of healthcare design on patient outcomes, staff satisfaction, and related topics. A Co-Founder of the Clinicians for Design group, this international network of leaders seeks to inspire and accelerate the design of environments and systems. A past Fellow of the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, Diana explores the ethics of built space. She recently completed a geriatric medicine fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. As a Principal at Jacobs, Diana provides thought leadership at the intersection of design and health. She is also a research fellow in geriatric neurology at the VA Boston Healthcare System. Outside of work Diana enjoys running outdoors, kayaking and exploring new cities and places.

I had the opportunity to present at the 2020 annual conference for the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) on the topic of bioethics built space. Just as medicine is using ethical awareness to encourage and empower clinicians, architecture can benefit from a bioethics lens – bioethics can sensitize the profession to the impact of our decisions, actions and behaviors on others. It has been inspiring to work with both architecture and bioethics colleagues to consider unique dimensions of healthcare design in order to promote new dialogue.