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Dr. Edward Weiss jokes that a pharmaceutical company sponsored
workshop on choosing the right medical career helped him decide on
a career in public health. Having always had a strong interest in
community service, he decided a career in medicine would allow him
to combine his interest in community work and his aptitude for math
He attended the University of Texas at
Austin and graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology. He
received his medical degree from Texas A &M University in
College Station, Texas. During medical school, Dr. Weiss was the
president of his first year class, and was concerned about the
number of students who were not passing their first year of medical
school. Dr. Weiss worked with the medical school administration,
his classmates and teachers to ensure that all students had the
support necessary to succeed in their first year. For the first
time in the history of the school, every member of the class passed
their first year of medical school, and most of have gone on to
have very successful medical careers, impacting the lives of
The career workshop Dr. Weiss attended during medical school
provided physician ratings of their careers in areas that could
impact job satisfaction. Dr. Weiss used an analytic approach to
weight the factors most important to him in a career, and added up
the numbers to see what would rise to the top. The results
suggested that Dr. Weiss would be happy with the options of
pediatric psychiatry, dermatology, and preventive medicine. "After
reading the description of preventive medicine, I realized that
this was exactly what I wanted to do, but I had difficulty finding
people at my medical school with more information about the
Dr. Weiss did a fourth year medical student elective rotation
with the General Preventive Medicine Residency at the Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. He decided that he
would first pursue an internal medicine residency, to provide a
strong foundation in clinical medicine on which to build his public
health career. He completed his internal medicine residency at the
Banner Good Samaritan/ Phoenix VA Medical Center in Phoenix,
Arizona. During his residency, he had the opportunity to work with
the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, and grew a lot
from working with his mentor, Dr. Doug Campos-Outcalt, who was
Director of Clinical Health Services.
"I really wanted to have a job similar to Dr. Campos-Outcalt
where I would be doing some direct patient care and would also have
the opportunity to work closely with the community. Working at the
Maricpoa County Department of Public Health was a great experience
and reaffirmed my desire to work in public health."
While at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, Dr.
Weiss had the opportunity to work with many different aspects of
the health department including homeless population outreach, and
sexually transmitted disease prevention. "We were going to the
places where a lot of public health issues arise and were directly
interfacing with the community, and I found that to be very
worthwhile." He also had the opportunity to assist with a
tuberculosis outbreak investigation, and to conduct a study of
gastrointestinal parasites affecting the refugee population,
resulting in a policy change in the screening practices by the
Following his internal medicine residency, Dr. Weiss pursued an
additional residency in general preventive medicine and public
health at the University of Massachusetts. During his preventive
medicine residency, Dr. Weiss was exposed to the work of Tom Wolff
and the Healthy Communities Movement, which focused on addressing
public health issues from the bottom up rather than from the top
down. Dr. Weiss shared his belief that the most valuable public
health programs are developed through community coalition
After his preventive medicine residency, Dr. Weiss applied and
was accepted to the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) two
year fellowship in applied epidemiology. When CDC is called upon to
provide epidemiologic assistance both domestically and
internationally, it is usually an EIS officer who is the first one
sent out into the field. EIS officers are frequently called upon to
lead field response teams, epidemiologic studies, disease
surveillance, statistical analyses, scientific writing, and other
public health practice activities. EIS alumni go on to fill key
leadership positions in federal, state, and local public health
agencies. "I thought EIS aligned nicely with my desire use my
background in medicine and public health to positively impact
During his EIS fellowship, Dr. Weiss focused on chronic disease
nutrition on worked on preventing obesity in communities. "As an
internist, I saw the end result of chronic diseases in individual
patients. I really wanted to focus my experience on preventing
chronic disease on a population level by working with communities."
During his EIS fellowship, he also had the opportunity to be part
of the first group of EIS officers deployed to set up surveillance
for injury and illness at emergency treatment facilities in and
around New Orleans in response to Hurricane Katrina. He enjoyed
being part of this large emergency response effort, where he was
out in the field responding to urgent public health issues.
When Dr. Weiss came to CDC, he also joined the U.S Public Health
Service Commissioned Corps, an elite team of highly qualified
public health professionals, and one of the seven uniformed
services of the United States. Commissioned Corps officers fill
essential public health leadership and clinical service roles
within federal government agencies to rapidly and effectively
respond to public health needs and advance public health science.
"One of the things that I enjoy most about being an officer in the
Commissioned Corps is that I am part of a group that is ready to
deploy with other early responders to public health emergencies. It
adds a lot of diversity to the job, and widens the scope of public
service that I can provide."
He continued working for the CDC through the end of his EIS
fellowship and has been there ever since. Currently, Dr. Weiss is
supervisor of EIS officers who are stationed at state and local
health departments throughout the country. He enjoys mentoring the
officers on their career paths and helping them make the most out
of their 2-year fellowship.
Although Dr. Weiss admits that his job keeps him busy, he is
thankful for the work/life balance that his career has afforded
him. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two children aged
two and four years.
December 2012 Issue of IMpact
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