Vivek Murthy, M.D., MBA, was confirmed by the Senate Monday as surgeon general of the United States. Murthy, president and co-founder of Doctors for America, was the keynote speaker for Duke Community and Family Medicine’s Community Health Engagement Day in September.
Murthy, 37, is America’s youngest surgeon general, and also is the first surgeon general of Indian-American descent.
Organizers of Duke’s Community Health Engagement Day and leaders of the department of Community and Family Medicine are pleased with his confirmation.
“At this time of great change in our nation’s health care system, Dr. Murthy is poised to tackle everything from Ebola to chronic disease,” says Justine Strand de Oliveira, DrPH, PA, vice chair for education for Duke Community and Family Medicine. “He is uniquely suited to the role, and we are so fortunate to have Dr. Murthy as the nation’s doctor.”
Sharon Hull, M.D., MPH, chief of the Division of Family Medicine, agrees.
“Dr. Vivek Murthy is a compassionate, skilled and thoughtful physician, well-versed in the critical skill of community engagement as we try to approach major public health issues of our time, including obesity, which is a focus area for him,” says Hull. “He will represent the nation’s physicians and public health community well, and we look forward to opportunities to partner with him in major initiatives going forward.”
On Sept. 10, Murthy spoke at the Bryan Center to Duke University faculty, staff, residents and students, and members of the community about the critical public health challenges facing the country and how those challenges can be met using 21st century strategies, technology and partnerships.
Murthy spoke of adopting an approach that utilizes community coalitions and technology to cultivate a grassroots culture of entrepreneurship.
“We need innovators who are on the ground,” Murthy said.
He challenged the students in attendance, which included students from Duke’s Doctor of Medicine,Doctor of Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant and Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursingprograms, to think about how they can improve health care. He said the choices the students make today have the potential to impact the world around us.
Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, M.D., Duke Family Medicine Residency program director and organizer of Community Health Engagement Day, says Murthy was a talented and passionate speaker.
“As the day ended, we felt we would be lucky as a nation if someone with such intelligence, humanity, humility, ability to listen and vision were to become our surgeon general,” says Martinez-Bianchi. “We are thrilled to learn he has been confirmed.”
Also during his visit to Duke, Murthy spoke to a group of faculty and staff as part of Duke AHEADprogramming, and toured Durham’s Lincoln Community Health Center.