Dr. Ralph Northam: Doing Double Duty

Since 2013, Ralph S. Northam has been pulling double duty as a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk, VA while also serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

“Every day, I’m seeing patients, traveling to a different part of the Commonwealth or listening to constituents,” he says. “I’m very grateful to have incredible partners working with me at the medical practice, a great team at the Lt. Governor’s office, and a very supportive family. Together, we keep the train moving on time.”

Northam grew up on the Eastern Shore and spent time in the military before returning to Hampton Roads, where he earned a degree at Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). In addition to his role at CHKD, Northam is also an assistant professor of neurology at EVMS and volunteers as medical director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth. He served as a state senator for five years before being elected Lt. Governor.

Northam’s number one priority as Lt. Governor is economic development, though he and Governor Terry McAuliffe are also focused on the overall health of Virginia’s citizens, especially children.

“Governor McAuliffe and I have made the health and well-being of Virginia’s children a key pillar of our administration,” he says. 

As chair of the Commonwealth Council for Childhood Success, Northam helped secure a federal grant that will expand access to pre-K education for up to 13,000 kids.

“We’ve also increased access to nutritious meals and early-intervention programs so that more Virginia kids have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” shares Northam, who has experienced from patients how lack of a proper education and healthcare can impact children.

“I see firsthand the difference a healthy environment can have on a child,” he says. “Children with access to education, nutritious meals and a healthy living environment lead happier and more successful lives than those who don’t.”

Childhood obesity is also a concern for the Lt. Governor.

“I’m very proud that Governor McAuliffe just signed a new law to address childhood obesity,” Northam shares. “For five years, the late Senator John Miller and I fought for this legislation to make sure children get moving instead of sitting at their desks all day. Regular exercise supports better learning outcomes and good behavior in children.”

Northam is also working toward improving the safety of children throughout Virginia, whether it’s through anti-bullying and anti-cyberbullying initiatives or ensuring the safety of young athletes during play.

“I’ve treated many school athletes who have suffered from concussions, and I’ve seen the long-term impact it can have on their health,” Northam notes. “As a state senator, I led legislative effort to establish policies that will keep student athletes safe from concussions and other injuries.” 

About the author

Brandy Centolanza

Brandy Centolanza is a freelance writer who has contributed regularly to The Health Journal since 2005. She covers health, travel, parenting, education and community issues for several publications in Hampton Roads and Richmond. Brandy lives in James City County with her husband, two children and two cats.