Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, senior adviser to the Secretary for American Indians and Alaska Natives with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will address The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences graduates at a commencement ceremony Friday, May 29, at 2 p.m. at Stranahan Theater.There are 236 candidates for degrees: 174 who will receive doctor of medicine degrees; 14 who will receive doctor of philosophy degrees; 10 who will receive master of biomedical science degrees; 29 who will receive master of public health degrees; two who will receive master of occupational health degrees; and seven who will receive graduate certificates.
Roubideaux will be presented an honorary degree.
“We are honored to have the accomplished and nationally recognized Dr. Roubideaux speak to our graduating class,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, senior vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “She has spent her illustrious career serving American Indians and Alaskan Natives. She is a compassionate physician, advocate and accomplished author on American Indian and Alaska Native health issues, research and policy. Her resumé could be used as a roadmap for what future physicians could accomplish in academic medicine and public health.”
Roubideaux is the senior adviser to the Secretary for American Indians and Alaska Natives within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she served as the director of Indian Health Service, where she administered a $4.6 billion nationwide health-care delivery program to provide preventative, curative and community health care to 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.
She had always planned to be a physician and treat American Indian patients. However, as she began her career, Roubideaux said she noticed the health disparities and determined she needed to do more. She moved into academic medicine and research to define the problems and look for solutions.
Roubideaux intends to offer the UT Health graduates, in particular future physicians, a message of hope and compassion.
“I definitely want to congratulate them and wish them well on their journey, wherever it takes them,” she said. “I want to encourage them to always remember who they are serving. So much of medicine is moving to patient-centered care. It can be easy as a physician to forget what it is like to be a patient. I want them to always remember to be compassionate caregivers.”
Roubideaux earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed a residency program in primary care internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She then received her master of public health degree at the Harvard School of Public Health while also completing the Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University fellowship in minority health policy.
Her career has been long and varied. Roubideaux was a medical/clinical officer at two Indian Health Service hospitals in Arizona before serving as an assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, where she conducted research on the quality of diabetes care and directed programs to enhance American Indian and Alaska Native student enrollment in health and research professions.
She is the past president of the Association of American Indian Physicians and an active researcher on American Indian health policy and health issues with an emphasis on diabetes. She was the co-director of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians Competitive Grant Program on Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease.
Roubideaux’s honors include the 2008 Addison B. Scoville Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service from the American Diabetes Association, the Outstanding American Indian Faculty Award from the University of Arizona Native American Student Affairs, and the 2008 Physician Advocacy Merit Award from the Columbia University Institute on Medicine as a Profession, among others.