Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam Practices Both Politics and Pediatrics

Lt. Governor Ralph Northam has two day jobs. When he is not treating sick children as a pediatric neurologist, he is presiding over the Virginia Senate. Northam (D) is a fairly obscure politician who support of women’s reproductive rights, gun control and Medicaid expansion. As a state senator, Northam executed a partisan political coup for Democrats in 2012 over legislation that called for women to undergo ultrasounds before an abortion. On the floor of the Senate, Northam argued standard abdominal ultrasounds showed nothing in the early stages of a pregnancy and that the law was a complete invasion of women’s bodies.

After completing his pediatric residency at Brooke Army Medical Center and a child neurology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Northam was sent to Germany to treat those wounded in Gulf War. Northam’s work in health care is a major source of his authenticity. He sees about 20 patients a day at the specialty practice he helped found in 1998 at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. For more than 16 years, Northam has been the volunteer medical director for Edmarc Hospice for Children, a nonprofit organization that serves children not expected to survive into adulthood. Northam also leads the governor’s task force on mental health.

After a recent examination of a 4-month-old, Northam ordered a genetic test to confirm the baby’s condition before telling the parents that she would probably die. The insurance company refused to cover the test and refused an appeal, which delayed the diagnosis for weeks. His daily frustration with insurance companies and their influence on medical care motivated him to enter politics. The lieutenant governor position is technically a part-time job that pays $36,321 a year. Doctoring often trumps politics for Northam who hopes to continue improving health care issues and breaking down barriers to care that exist in the current U.S. healthcare system.

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Alison Killian is a recent graduate of Grove City College who majored in Business Management and minored in Biology Studies. She is a contributor to Medical Groups and passionate about all facets of healthcare. She plans on continuing work in the healthcare field especially in management. She is very interested in healthcare innovation and finding ways to improve the current system. She hopes to go back to school in a few years to earn a degree in medicine.