Public Officials with Surprising Health Care Backgrounds

Did you know that many of our congressmen/congresswomen are health care professionals? About 28 medical professionals (not including social work) are in the 115th Congress. After some years of working with patients, they forged ahead to try and make a difference in the government. Here are some of the senators and representatives that make up the United State Congress.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI)

Sen. Stabenow received her M.S.W. magna cum laude from Michigan State University. She worked with youth in public schools before running for public office. In 2004, she was recognized as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Public Elected Official of the Year.

The health care profession of social work makes sense for someone involved in the field of public office since they work for the sake of the community’s well-being. Both social work and public office can be actualized through a quest for social and economic justice. They can help with the prevention of conditions that limit human rights, the elimination of poverty and the enhancement of the quality of life for all persons, locally and globally.

Senator John Barrasso (WY)

Sen. Barraso served as a rodeo physician for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and as a sports team physician for Casper College. He has worked 24 years as an orthopedic surgeon and served as President of the Wyoming Medical Society; he was once named Wyoming Physician of the Year.

Orthopedics is a specialty of an allopathic physician (otherwise known as an M.D.). An orthopaedic surgeon is a physician devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and rehabilitation of maladies concerning the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. These professionals need extensive training and have to complete about 14 years of formal education. This training includes the proper diagnosis and non-surgical and surgical treatment of injuries and diseases.

Representative Andrew Harris (MD)

Rep. Harris started out his medical career as an anesthesiologist physician in the Naval Reserve. Andy volunteered to serve in the military as a medical specialist and eventually established and commanded the Johns Hopkins Medical Naval Reserve Unit.

Anesthesiologist physicians and anesthesiologist assistants work to design and implement anesthesia care plans before, during and after surgeries. An anesthesiologist is responsible for making judgments about the safest anesthesia plan for each individual patient. In total, anesthesiologist physicians spend about nine years in college; four years for their BS, four years for their M.D. or O.D. and then another year of study or fellowship.

Representative Raul Ruiz (CA)

Rep. Ruiz attended Harvard University, where he earned his medical degree, as well as a master’s of public policy from the Kennedy School of Government and a master’s of public health from the School of Public Health, becoming the first Latino to earn three graduate degrees from Harvard University.

Emergency medicine is a medical specialty of allopathic medicine dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of unforeseen illness or injury. The profession provides immediate recognition, evaluation, care, stabilization and disposition for their patients. Emergency medicine encompasses planning, oversight and medical direction for community emergency medical response, medical control and disaster preparedness. They can specialize in subspecialties such as:

  • Anesthesiology
  • Emergency medical services
  • Hospice
  • Internal medicine
  • Toxicology
  • Pain medicine
  • Pediatric emergency medicine
  • Sports medicine
  • Undersea and hyperbaric medicine

While doctors save lives and prevent illness, politicians are able to pass legislation to help those in their communities. Whether you’re interested in medicine or politics, these fields foster change in the world in large and small ways.

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