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Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast

Episode #21 Interview with Dan Rutz: Advancing Public Health through Communication Initiatives - 1

Dan Rutz: Advancing Public Health through Communication Initiatives - Part 1

This is an informative and interesting interview with Dan Rutz, who shares his successful 30 year journey through radio and television broadcasting where he was able to develop and use his expertise in communication to advance public health. His career path includes success with the Cable News Network (CNN), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) as well as his current initiative called My Growing Edge.

Listen to This Episode of the Public Health Epidemiology Conversations (PHEC) Podcast

Dan talks about the work that he does currently

  • He has a part time teaching appointment with Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health. There he works with graduate students who are completing their master of public health degrees.

  • He also works in domestic violence prevention and control, primarily with men who have a history of abusing women and girls. His work centers on what I call “upstream solutions” and has taken on an international outreach through a group discussion space called My Growing Edge.

  • Additionally, he does some public health communication consulting work.

  • He enjoys speaking to groups of all kinds on public health issues, running workshops including training journalists and others who engage with the media on both health topics and communication strategy.

Dan talks about his career journey, which includes his time with CNN, CDC, and WHO

  • For eighteen years he served as the CNN Sr. Medical Correspondent, appearing on national television throughout that period, covering medical and health news and producing occasional special reports and documentaries.

  • Following that career, he joined the CDC where he worked in bioterrorism preparedness, and emerging infectious disease communication strategy

  • He worked with WHO in rolling out revised International Health Regulations (IHR), and HIV prevention in high prevalence countries of southern and eastern Africa.

  • He has been around the world conducting trainings and workshops for the US State Department and Voice of America, as well as CDC.

Interesting Highlights and Takeaways

Dan joined CNN in 1981, one year after they started broadcasting. He said that he was skeptical about Ted Turner’s new cable news program, but decided to check into the job opportunity after his wife’s suggestion. He started working with CNN covering medical news just as AIDS was becoming a new emerging disease. He still reviews those transcripts today and is amazed by how much we knew about the etiology of disease back then, over 30 years ago.

After CNN, He worked with CDC on anti bioterrorism and emerging infectious disease. The last 5 years at CDC he went back to covering AIDS in global regions where it is highly prevalent.

Interesting point: He was able to move into the opportunity with CDC because he had good contacts, he was trusted, and had demonstrated good work in collaborations (aka networking) while working at CNN. This is important because he didn’t wait until he needed a job. He did well and maximized his opportunities to shine at CNN and built/nurtured his networking connections all at the same time.

Transition tip: He took his skills and what he learned in his broadcasting career (e.g. communication and listening) and applied them in the public health arena to make an even bigger impact (priceless!)

Dan talks about My Growing Edge, his current initiative

  • At this stage in his life and career, Dan is especially concerned with ending gender-based violence, which is predominantly an issue of men abusing women and girls.It is a universal problem and he is working hard to bring together international perspectives that allow and encourage men to become accountable for their own behavior, and for each other.He believes that there is a lot of confusion over gender roles but he see only “Win-Win” possibilities as we help one another find respect for others starting with self-respect which is often lacking among those with abusive tendencies.

  • He says that there is no excuse for the behavior in question here, but his approach is to try to get to the underlying root of the problem/issue. My Growing Edge is a safe place to have these discussions with men.

Dan made a point of saying that he has experienced a rich full career and now feels as though he has an opportunity to give back and help others who are developing their careers. He doesn’t have the need to make money anymore. He’s still healthy and loves people and problem solving.

Connect With Dan Rutz

Part 2 will continue with the interview and discussion, in Episode 22

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