Steven K. Rothschild, MD, Keep It Movin’ Co-Principal Investigator, Rush University Medical Center

How did your interest in health equity begin? 

I entered medical school planning to work with what we used to call “medically underserved communities.” It was probably largely part of growing up in the 1960’s era of the civil rights movement in the US. My parents were not activists, but my dad’s family escaped the Nazis in the late 1930s, so it was understood that sitting on the sidelines wasn’t ever going to be an option. Fortunately, I have been able to find mentors and work settings that kept me focused on health equity work. For example, as an undergraduate, I spent a summer living and working with a family physician in Detroit’s Cass Corridor neighborhood, an inner-city community that was still emerging from the uprisings of 1967. Later I trained in family medicine at a residency at Cleveland’s county hospital, where there was an emphasis on community oriented primary care and working alongside of the people and communities most impacted by structural inequities. Those are touchstones that have shaped my career as both a physician and researcher.

What are your current research projects?

Since becoming Chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, I have not had as much time for my own research. Of course, I am excited to co-lead Keep It Movin’ with Dr. Beth Lynch. Multimorbidity will continue to be the major challenge to the health system for the next few decades, and the work we are doing in C3EN is critical in identifying effective interventions. I am also working with Dr. Lisa Sánchez-Johnsen to launch a virtual intervention to increase physical activity for Puerto Rican men impacted by overweight and sedentary lifestyles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Not exactly proud, but something that makes me really happy is that many of my patients have trusted me with their care for 20 or 30 years. I take care of some adults who I delivered and watched grow up, and who now have kids of their own, and that’s a trip. I have also sponsored and mentored a lot of talented clinicians and researchers, and have created opportunities for others to engage in advocacy, research, and patient care that centers health equity.

Do you have any fun facts?

I’m an Aries, so I am pretty opinionated about everything and more than a little stubborn. I can and will eat almost any kind of food, the spicier the better. That said, I’m a lifelong Chicagoan so don’t bring me a hot dog with ketchup! Also, my first job in high school was as a Fuller Brush Salesman – which most of you will have to look up.