27 Feb Rebel with a Cause: 1965 Boettcher Scholar Jeff Bauer
“Constructive contrarian” – someone who questions the way things are and provides potential solutions – isn’t a common vocation. But that is how Jeff Bauer, 1965 Boettcher Scholar and Colorado College graduate, describes his diverse and ever-evolving career.
Jeff, 72, is an accomplished health futurist with more than 275 publications on health care delivery and a decade as a vice president for health forecasting and strategy for a Fortune 500 company. Before working in the for-profit sector, Jeff’s career included roles as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin medical school, a consultant for multi-hospital networks and a health policy advisor for Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm. He also spent 11 years as a teacher and administrator at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, where his constructive contrarian nature led to inspiration.
While overseeing the creation of a common basic sciences program for medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry in the 1980s, Jeff began to question the assumption that physicians were better trained than the professionals in the other schools.
“I learned that our non-physician advanced practitioners were as competent as the medical doctors within their respective state-authorized scopes of practice,” he said.
In 1993, he published Not What the Doctor Ordered, an analysis of the need for competition between all the health professions who met the criteria for being a captain of the ship. This challenge to physicians’ traditional authority earned him an invitation to testify before Congress. His advocacy for giving consumers direct access to comparably qualified, lower-cost providers such as nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives faced opposition from large medical groups but helped pave the way for the rapid growth of advanced practice programs.
“Health reform that doesn’t provide access to the full range of independently qualified caregivers care is wasteful,” said Jeff. “This is an issue of consumer rights and social equity.”
Jeff’s propensity to explore questions began early on in his life. Jeff seized the opportunity to work on atmospheric research and physics for the National Center for Atmospheric Research while still a student at Fairview High School in Boulder. He credits this experience for successfully breaking the ice in his interview discussion with Mae Boettcher, who was also interested in the same subjects.
While studying economics and French at Colorado College, Jeff was selected for an experimental program of the Ford Foundation that provided four years of independent study with no formal course requirements.
The sense of independence and curiosity instilled from this experience led Jeff to earn a certificate in political science from the University of Paris, a PhD in economics from CU Boulder, and to make the decision to raise his family on a 275-acre organic farm outside of Brush for 20 years. Jeff also acknowledges the scholarship for instilling in him a desire to give back.
“The Boettcher Scholarship, even more than my four-generation Colorado heritage, tied me deeply to the state and its people, and my community.” Although Jeff lives in Madison, Wisconsin, he continues to stay involved with the Boettcher and greater Colorado community.
This spring, 25 years after his first publication of Not What the Doctor Ordered, Jeff is releasing a third edition whose profits will support the education of advanced practitioners at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Jeff is also a nonprofit board member and frequently gives his time and talent as a speaker on numerous topics.
During the 2018 Scholar Signature Event, Jeff shared his passion for art with the Boettcher community. In his newest career chapter, Jeff is working to become established as a conceptual artist whose unique acrylic paintings are infused with his “constructive contrarian” nature.
“One of the greatest topics among artists is whether a painting can make a political statement. I believe words can. So, in my word-based art as much as my books, I seek to grab people’s attention and draw them in through words that lead to interesting conversations.”