Dr. Adewale Troutman honored for his work in public health

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“My public health practice is social justice, my public health passion is health equity,” said USF College of Public Health Professor Dr. Adewale Troutman.  He joined the college in 2010 and serves as the associate dean for Health Equity and Community Engagement.

Adewale Troutman

Adewale Troutman, MD, MPH, CPH

Growing up in the poverty-stricken South Bronx and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, as well as the teachings of Malcom X, Dr. Troutman yearned for a way to contribute to the cause. So, he started his educational journey at New York State University.

“I earned a master’s in black studies because I thought that was going to make a difference by teaching people about the history of Africans and African-Americans in this world. I got maybe a year out and I realized that was not going to do it,” Troutman said.

He decided to set off for Rutgers New Jersey Medical School to obtain his medical degree. It was during his time as a medical doctor that he discovered a love for public health.

“I’ve led my life around the principle of ‘How do I make the biggest difference?’ and major decisions in my life have been around that principle,” Troutman said. “So, even though I went to medical school, I found the opportunity to make an even bigger difference was vested in public health, not in individual clinical medicine.”

He earned his master of public health degree from Columbia University and since then has made large strides in the area of social justice and health equity, so much so, that a joint award from the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Institute for Health Equity and the CUNY School of Public Health created an award in his honor.

The award, called The Adewale Troutman Social Justice Award, will be awarded to students of CUNY’s School of Public Health or Health Sciences programs who exemplify the values of social justice and health equity, as well the commitment to pursuing a career to carry out those values.

Adewale Troutman Award

Marilyn Molina, executive director of the CUNY Institute for Health Equity, presents Dr. Adewale Troutman the inaugural award named in his honor: The Adewale Troutman Social Justice Award.

 

With his wife, daughters, and 97-year-old mother present, Troutman was presented with the inaugural award this past summer.

“I was totally blown away,” Troutman said.

At the ceremony, Troutman matched the $1,000 award for next year’s recipient.

“I hope that there is a legacy here, going forward, that students at all levels will embrace the notion that health equity is the ultimate goal, where everyone has the opportunity to be the healthiest that they can possibly be,” Troutman said.

The accolades do not stop there.

Troutman was also recently invited to give the convocation speech at his alma mater, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Adewale Troutman Convocation Speech Rutgers

Dean of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Dr. Robert Johnson, welcomes Dr. Adewale Troutman   to the graduation ceremony. Dr. Johnson and Dr. Troutman were once classmates during medical school.

 

During the speech, Troutman wanted to leave an impact on the future health practitioners and stress that they too have a role in health equity.

“I focused on why it’s important that they see themselves as change agents,” Troutman said. “To see themselves as agents for focusing on population health, not just worrying about the individual, and how important it is for them to advocate for those basic principles of the rights to health, equity and justice.”

Adewale Troutman Convocation Speech Rutgers 2

Dr. Adewale Troutman speaking at his alma mater, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, this past summer. His main message to the graduating class: to see themselves as change agents and advocate for health equity.

 

Some of Troutman’s major milestones include opening the first center for health equity at the local health department level, leading as president of the American Public Health Association for more than 25,000 members and being featured in the nationally televised PBS series, “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?”

“This has been my life’s commitment; it’s been 50 years,” Troutman said. “I’m 69 and I started doing this work as a student at 18-years-old. It’s been a lifelong work and there’s been an unexpected outpouring of love and respect from all over the country for all of the work that I’ve been able to do and that’s really gratifying.”

He has recently formed a partnership between USF and PolicyLink, a national research institute aiming to advance economic and social equity, to examine centers for health equity across the nation. Through this partnership, Troutman and his staff have brought together key personnel from centers for health equity housed at both universities and health departments across the nation. Convenings, including one hosted at the COPH, have commenced to discuss the development of a common strategic plan.

Next month he will be moderating a panel and speaking in Los Angeles at PolicyLink’s Equity Summit 2015: All in for inclusion, justice, and prosperity.

 

Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health, photos courtesy of Dr. Adewale Troutman.