The 20th Surgeon General of the United States, Distinguished Professor, Presidential Fellow & Executive Director of Health Equity Initiatives at Purdue
After growing up poor and Black in a Southern rural community, Jerome Adams went on to lead the 6,000 person U.S. Public Health Service as “America’s Doctor” during a worldwide pandemic. As Surgeon General, he brought a passionate commitment to fighting issues that his own family and community experienced, including limited healthcare access, chronic disease, substance use disorder and ensuing stigma, tobacco addiction, maternal health, mental illness and the opioid epidemic. Dr. Adams’ talks merge his expertise at the forefront of national and global health policy with his own personal experiences: growing up with life-threatening asthma, as a brother to someone with substance use disorder, and as someone navigating politics to tirelessly champion the health of the vulnerable and voiceless during times of crisis. Read More >
Ending the Stigma of Substance Use Disorder
Community Health and Economic Prosperity
Dr. Jerome Adams on Overcoming Stigma with #NIHHEAL
When COVID-19 began spreading rapidly, the world was taken by surprise. As the ensuing pandemic raged, we faced one constant—a lack of consistent, scientifically sound, trusted information that the average person could understand and put into practice to keep themselves and their families safe. In this talk, Dr. Jerome Adams reveals critical lessons learned from both mistakes and successes during the pandemic. He explains the urgency to create a safer environment for individuals, families and communities, how we can respond better to the next threat and why we must promote health equity for all. They are lessons well learned. We must work together to find solutions through a bottom-up, community-driven approach to prepare ourselves for inevitable future health crises.
COVID-19 created a perfect storm that preyed upon our nation’s most vulnerable communities: people of color, rural populations, and those already suffering from epidemics of obesity, asthma, substance use disorder, smoking, and conditions such as poor maternal health that are prevalent in low-income zip codes. COVID has cast a spotlight on a long history of systemic health inequities in America—disparities and underlying conditions that were Dr. Adams’ focus as Surgeon General. Today, these disparities still remain. But according to Dr. Adams, there is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. Noting that great advancements in health policy often come during or after times of war (antibiotic use after WWI, health care coverage after WWII, or trauma care after the Gulf War), Dr. Adams sees an opportunity in a post-COVID world to talk about the social determinants of health and health equity in a way that truly resonates with the public, moves from awareness to action, and drives real and lasting change.
In far too many cases, businesses are pitted against health. That’s why Jerome Adams was the first Surgeon General to actively engage businesses to become change-makers and forces for health in their communities. In this talk for corporate stakeholders, Dr. Adams explains why communities that are unhealthy don’t just see individuals with poor health—they see businesses with poor economic health, more absenteeism, lower productivity, increased workplace accidents, increased turnover and trouble recruiting a healthy workforce. In this informative talk drawn from his landmark Surgeon General Report, Dr. Adams shares examples from 40 companies that elevated community health, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it benefits their bottom line.
In the healthcare world, we’ve seen that patients that are taken care of by people who look like them and who come from their backgrounds have better health outcomes. According to Dr. Adams, the same is true in any workplace. Data, statistics and studies show that when an organization champions diversity, equity and inclusion, they expand their stakeholder base, are more relevant and innovative, and have more engaged and productive employees. In this engaging talk, 20th Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks to becoming better corporate citizens by building a culture of belonging and connecting more closely to the community in ways that are a “win-win” for all.
One of millions of American families affected by substance use disorder, Dr. Jerome Adams has seen his own family not only struggle with the disease, but suffer the crippling stigma attached to it. His own younger brother’s case, like so many others, started with untreated depression that led to opioid pain reliever misuse and then, to years of cycling in and out of jail. Sharing his family’s painful and heart-felt story, Dr. Adams asserts that the first step to battling substance use disorder is to understand that it is a chronic, but treatable, brain disease that should be as free of stigma as any other chronic health condition. Blending a Surgeon General’s public health expertise with a candid account of his family’s own story of heartbreak and hope, Dr. Adams calls on all of us to change society’s views and break down the barriers that prevent sufferers and their families from speaking out and seeking help.
Dr. Jerome Adams grew up in rural Mechanicsville, Maryland, on one of the many tobacco farms that once drove the local economy of his impoverished hometown. Despite chronic asthma that caused him to miss school, he was an exceptional student, winning awards and accolades for science, math, technology and engineering. His hard work landed him a college scholarship to University of Maryland, where he earned dual bachelor degrees in biochemistry and biopsychology, also studying abroad in Zimbabwe and the Netherlands. Remembered as a kid from a small town who held his own competing with students from around the world, it was his compassion for others and concern over the injustice of health care disparities that inspired him to become a doctor. Years later, as Surgeon General, “America’s Doctor,” he fought to give a voice to communities that often go unheard. In this inspiring speech, Dr. Adams talks about the factors that drove his success—from his own mindset to individual teachers and a system of supports that helped him rise out of poverty so that he could raise up others.
"We appreciate your willingness to present and hope you enjoyed the experience. This year was an overwhelming success with registrations topping 7,600 including all 50 states, and 37 countries. The summary of evaluation results were overwhelmingly positive! Thank you again!"
"Everything went off without a hitch! Dr. Adams is such a chill person and so gracious. Thank you."
"I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about our 'fireside chat.' It is clear that the audience very much enjoyed our time together. In addition, the leadership of our Addiction Medicine Section, who helped with the initial questions and the follow-up questions, wanted to express their thanks as well. I hope that you were as encouraged by your time with us as much as we were by the evening. They could have listened to him for another hour."
"Dr. Adams was WONDERFUL. He was so personable and stayed beyond his contracted times to make sure everyone was spoken to and felt important. His remarks were engaging and our community was enlightened by his visit."
"It was a true pleasure to work with you to make our event a success. Dr. Adams delivered a wonderful fireside chat. From the moment he walked through the door, he made an everlasting impact on our board and our members, from our med school students to our retired physicians. We cannot thank you enough for connecting us with him and making this night possible. We will be sure to keep the APB in mind for our future events."
"From the moment you walked in, you changed the lives of our members and how they will continue their medical practice for the rest of their lives. After many of our members served through the COVID-19 pandemic, it was pivotal for them to hear from America’s doctor and how the decisions you made personally impacted you and your family. Your fireside chat was an unforgettable moment in NCMS history. We will treasure the moments that you shared with not only our board but the rest of our members, as well. The honesty and authenticity that you exhibited truly set an example for our practicing physicians and our medical school students who have yet to embark on their careers alike. It is through these interactions and experiences that our organization can inspire positive change in the field of medicine."
"We wanted to thank you again for your help and assistance with getting Dr. Adams booked for our meeting. He was charming and told heart-felt stories. He captivated the audience as you can imagine. Thank you again. It’s been a pleasure to work with you and Dr. Adams."
"Dr. Adams was amazing. Being a former U.S. Surgeon General, my expectations of him were high. He more than exceed my expectations of him. Not only did he do all activities he was asked to do, but he was totally engaged and charismatic throughout. I am definitely a fan of Dr. Adams now and he always has an open-ended invitation to come to Columbia and speak from my vantage point. Please thank Dr. Adams again for me and the entire campus administration here at Mizzou for being both the keynote; but also, the highlight of Black History Month 2022 here at Mizzou."
"I sincerely appreciate your participation and insightful remarks at our board summit. I believe your expert commentary, along with that of Dr. Wen, resonated with our board and leader audience and provided a vision around the future of COVID and health care. I especially appreciated your remarks about the need for a customized approach to address vaccine hesitancy. We have noticed this need in the communities we serve in New Jersey, and have been working this customization into our approach to provide education and encouragement around the vaccine. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and expertise at our event."
"His presentation was excellent! We like him very much."
"It went great. Dr. Adams was awesome with students and our subscribers and interview was well received."
"We wanted to thank you again for your help and assistance with getting Dr. Adams booked for our meeting. He was charming and told heart-felt stories. He captivated the audience as you can imagine."
"I wanted to take the time to thank you for your participation in our Parker Seminars Orlando event. Your keynote presentation session was fantastic and garnered a ton of positive comments by our attendees."
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