An EVMS graduate and faculty physician is now the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

An EVMS graduate and faculty physician is now the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Ralph Northam, MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics who earned his EVMS degree in 1984, was sworn into office on Jan. 13 

Dr. Northam, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, previously served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

During his inaugural address, Northam said he hopes to bring people together to solve the problems of Virginia. “The guiding principle of this administration will be simple, we will work together to make our Commonwealth work better for all Virginians, no matter who they are or where they are from,” Northam said.

During his time in state government, Dr. Northam has a track record of targeting health concerns. He championed legislation to establish firm guidelines for dealing with concussions incurred playing sports in Virginia schools. He also authored the smoking ban in Virginia restaurants 

Dr. Northam visited campus last fall to talk with residents, students and faculty about issues surrounding the care of the mentally ill. As a child neurologist, he chairs the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response. He spoke with residents and faculty in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, as well as students interested in psychiatry.

During that visit, Dr. Northam discussed legislative initiatives and challenges, such as providing an adequate number of hospital beds for the mentally ill, tracking where those open beds are and using the beds to benefit the neediest patients. He told his young audience that the difficulties illustrate the importance of physician involvement in the legislative process. “If you’re not at the table,” he said, reciting an old adage, “you’re on the menu.” 

His son, Weston, is a 2014 EVMS graduate and is a neurosurgeon in Chapel Hill, NC.