“I stepped away from my position, but I didn't step away from the mission,” Benjamin said during a Sept. 9 panel discussion before a gala honoring Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician's 50 Most Influential Physician Executives in Healthcare (Benjamin was No. 12 on the 2013 list). “We have to make prevention part of our everyday lives. We have to go where people are. The new way of saying integrating health is, health doesn't occur in the doctor's office and the hospital, it occurs where we live, where we learn, where we work, where we play and where we pray.”
Benjamin is an alumnus of Xavier, a historically black university. She will develop the school's new Department of Public Health Sciences with a goal of getting students out into the community to better promote public health in areas where it is most needed.
Her duties will also include teaching classes and coordinating national and international conferences, with plans to hold an international conference on tobacco use prevention next year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general warning on packages of cigarettes.
“Having the 18th surgeon general join our family is a milestone achievement for Xavier University, the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana and the United States of America,” said Xavier President Norman Francis. “I am honored to have Dr. Benjamin join our public health program and grow it into a global force for promoting healthy communities.”
Benjamin, a family practice physician, plans to continue her volunteer work at the Alabama clinic she founded, which she helped to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and again after a fire destroyed the facility a year later.
Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHSjohnson