Hugh Tilson joined NC AHEC as director of the NC AHEC Program and associate dean of the UNC School of Medicine in late October, 2018. In an effort to get to know him better, we asked Hugh a few important questions. You can read more about Hugh’s background in this official announcement.
Q: What interested you most about the director position at NC AHEC?
A: The AHEC mission and the opportunity to improve the health of the people of North Carolina, especially those in rural and underserved communities
Q: What opportunities and/or challenges do you see for NC AHEC in the months ahead?
A: The NC AHEC Program, meaning the Program Office and the regions, has done incredible work throughout its history. Healthcare is changing rapidly. People routinely approach me saying something like, “Has AHEC thought about doing —” or “We need AHEC to do —”
The challenge is how to celebrate the great work we’ve done while also asking the hard questions about what we’ll need to do (and not do) in the future to meet those rapidly changing needs. The good news is that so many people are counting on AHEC to build on that past and to continue to be an integral part of meeting those needs.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
A: Always tell the truth and do the right thing
Q: Now, on to the important stuff. What’s your favorite way to spend your free time?
A: It’s cliché, but with my family. My wife has a very rewarding and very demanding job. My son is a freshman in college, and my daughter is a junior in high school. Our time together as a family is precious—when we’re able to clear away the distractions and be a family, it’s as good as it gets. My parents live here (and are healthy), and my two sisters and their families are also here. I love spending time with them, as well. I wish I were able to spend more time with my brother and his family in Boston.
I don’t play golf well but I enjoy it when I do play, mostly because I’m usually with good friends. We have a boat that we don’t get out on nearly enough, but it is a lot of fun when we do. I try to carve out time for exercise and reflection every day.
Q: What is your favorite season and why?
A: I love spring. It’s a time of rebirth.
Q: Where/how did you spend your most recent vacation? What vacation was your favorite?
A: My most recent vacation was to Cancun over the holiday break. My wife and I realized just before the break that the only way we would get undistracted family time was to leave the country—so we did! It was great.
My favorite vacation is always my most recent one! We have traveled for spring break for the past nine years. Each trip has been different and great. Last spring break we went to southern Utah to spend time in the national parks. My son is a photographer; in addition to some great experiences, we got some amazing pictures. We’re headed to Aruba this spring break.
Q: What do you like to read? Watch on TV? Listen to?
A: Because I read so much for work, I tend to read brain candy in my free time. Over the holiday break, I read Dan Brown’s most recent book, Origin. I don’t watch much TV other than sports, although my wife and I will binge watch Netflix or Amazon series on Friday evenings. My favorite XM music channels are Classic Vinyl, Jimmy Buffett, and the Grateful Dead. I listen to classical music when I work. I sang in a men’s acapella group in college and am always amazed at how much better acapella groups are today!
Q: What’s something you are interested in that most people aren’t?
A: I get up at 4:00 most mornings. I’ve found it’s the only time I can carve out for myself. Other than that, I’m pretty boring—my interests tend to all be pretty common.
Q: What’s the last thing you Googled?
A: Brexit. I don’t fully understand its implications and am trying to learn more.