David R. Nielsen, MD, FACS

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery


Dr. Nielsen is currently EVP/CEO of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS, or the “Academy”) and past chair of the Academy’s Board of Governors. Following a bachelors degree in Business-Finance, medical school, otolaryngology residency training, and additional fellowship in otology, Dr. Nielsen practiced otology as a solo private practitioner for 13 years and at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale as a Senior Consultant for five years.

Dr. Nielsen has served as AAO-HNS Executive Vice President and CEO for the last 12 years. Dr. Nielsen has represented the Academy at the AMA House of Delegates, the American College of Surgeons Board of Governors, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, and many other organizations. He represented the Academy in the Practitioner’s Work Group of the Ethical Force Program, which helped to better define confidentiality, security, and privacy criteria and measures for physicians in preparation for the implementation of HIPAA.

Dr. Nielsen is a past Chair of the Specialty Society CEO Coalition (S2C2) and current President of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) and Chair of its CEO Component Group. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement (PCPI), the leading physician organization in developing performance measures and promoting medical societies’ quality improvement activity. He is the Chair of the PCPI Foundation Board, and a member of the PCPI Finance and Governance sub-committees.

Dr. Nielsen was the Principle Investigator of the AAOHNS’ annual quality conferences in 2006 and 2007, which have since been incorporated into the Annual Meeting program. He has been invited to present the Academy’s quality initiatives to CMS, AHIP, PCPI, AAMSE, NCQA, and many other national and state societies and academic institutions and was an invited panelist on the physician perspective at the National P4P Summit. He has written chapters on evidence-based performance measurement for several text books, and co-authored a white paper on share accountability.

Dr. Nielsen is a certified facilitator for “Fierce Conversations,” a management communications and leadership training tool to advance team building, coaching, delegation, and confrontation of difficult issues. He currently oversees the Academy’s education, research, health policy and advocacy, and member services activities for its 12,000 members. He and his wife of 40 years, Rebecca live in Alexandria, VA and are the parents of 4 children and have 12 grandchildren.