Since being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar in 1975, Rear Admiral (RADM) Patrick O’Carroll has worked in medicine and public health – writ large and writ small - from seeing individual patients, to investigating disease outbreaks, to helping the federal government efficiently and effectively promote health and prevent disease.
Though currently serving a six-month detail in Washington D.C. as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health in Science and Medicine, RADM O’Carroll spent the past 13 years as a Regional Health Administrator in the U.S. Public Health Service. In that role, he coordinates and connects the full range of prevention programs for the Department of Health and Human Services, and works with prevention leaders across HHS Region 10 (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington). These prevention programs are wide-ranging and ever changing. For example, he has worked on issues such as tobacco control, Ebola, nutrition, disaster preparedness, vaccinations, physical activity, domestic violence, pandemic flu, suicide prevention, and the health of undocumented immigrants. “I have a wonderful job in that it is always fresh,” says O’Carroll.
RADM O’Carroll’s work at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, inspired him to focus on issues that affect populations broadly. With a medical degree and Masters of Public Health degree (both from Johns Hopkins University) and field experience with the CDC, RADM O’Carroll says he “realized that much of an individual patient’s issue could be prevented through work in the community”.
A colleague, Dr. Anand Parekh (1994, MI), who RADM O’Carroll had not realized was also a Presidential Scholar, encouraged him to attend the June 2015 Alumni Reception and Salute to the Scholars Performance at the Kennedy Center. “What a wonderful event! I’m so glad I attended.”
His memories of the National Recognition Program center mostly on his mother who came with him to Washington D.C. “Being an immigrant from Ireland, she was very proud” and enormously impressed with the fanfare of the event. He also remembers attending a performance of classical music at Wolf Trap which he realizes he may not have fully appreciated at the time, but would thoroughly enjoy now.
RADM O’Carroll is thrilled that the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program still exists. “I am struck with how incredibly important the second decade of life is – it impacts the rest of your life. Adolescence is often treated as a joke, a punch line, like temporary insanity. But it is really a critically important developmental stage. We need to appreciate adolescence and adolescents, particularly those adolescents who are extraordinary and can serve as role models.”
RADM O'Carroll joined the Presidential Scholars Foundation Board of Directors in April 2016.