Angry Reader of the Week: Vivek Murthy

"I love empowering and connecting people so they can create positive change."

Hey, everybody! It's that time again. Time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Who are you?

Hi, I'm Dr. Vivek Murthy. For our readers who are wondering, that's pronounced vih-VAKE MOORTH-ee.

What are you?

I am the 19th Surgeon General of the United States. I was confirmed by the United States Senate and was sworn in on December 18, 2014. I am also an internal medicine physician, teacher, and entrepreneur. And a serious mango aficionado.

Where are you?

Good question! I recently moved to DC. But since late January, I have been traveling the country to diverse communities on our Surgeon General House Calls Listening Tour. In 4 weeks, I have been to (big breath) Birmingham, Aniston, Atlanta, Richmond, Roanoke, Charlotte, Kansas City, Springfield, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Miami, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, and Dearborn. I have been meeting with community leaders, hospital staff, faith leaders, and many others to learn about their concerns and about their incredible work to improve the health of their communities.

I am also encouraging people across the country to #GetCovered! The deadline to sign up for affordable health coverage this year through the Affordable Care Act is THIS SUNDAY, February 15. Before the Affordable Care Act, about 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) were uninsured. We made great strides during last year’s open enrollment period, but we still need to make sure the remaining 1.3 million uninsured AAPIs get covered. You can learn more about getting covered at HealthCare.gov.

Where are you from?

My father's father was a farmer in rural India who raised four young children after his wife died young - yet still found time for charitable work and the energy to fight for India's independence. My parents grew up in India but moved to England (where they had me and my older sister), then to a rural community in Newfoundland, Canada. Fortunately, they moved to warm Miami, FL when I was 3 years old, and that's where I grew up.

My parents, my sister, and my fiancée are my inspiration. My early interest in medicine came from spending time in my parents' clinic and seeing the beautiful relationships they built with patients. The first two community health organizations I built were with my sister, Rashmi, who gave me endless strength and advice during the good times and bad times. My sister is a saint, and she continues to support me unconditionally in all that I do. My fiancée, Alice, worked with me to build Doctors for America, and she keeps me grounded and in touch with my idealism. I consider myself truly blessed to have such an incredible family.

What do you do?

As America’s Doctor, I am responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public regarding ways to improve personal health and the health of the nation. I oversee the operations of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, comprised of approximately 6,700 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote, protect, and advance the health and safety of our nation.

I am focused on modernizing how the Office of the Surgeon General works with the public and how we build community partnerships to address the great health challenges we face.

What are you all about?

I love empowering and connecting people so they can create positive change. In college, I started an organization called VISIONS that engaged young people in the United States and India to do HIV education in an effort that reached 45,000 students. Later, I started Swasthya, which trained young women to be community health care workers in rural India. In medical school, I started a course that explored physician burnout and how to keep alive the passion we all have for patient care. After residency, I built a technology company, TrialNetworks, to accelerate clinical trial research and later started Doctors for America to engage physicians around the country in improving our health care system.

I have seen the power of people to change themselves and the world around them. That is what keeps me going and what I hope to bring to the big public health challenges we face as a nation -- obesity, substance abuse, mental health, and vaccine-preventable illness.

What makes you angry?

Cynicism and complacency. My parents taught from an early age that you're never too young or too old to fix the problems you see in the world.

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