by Michelle Consorte ’12
Earning a degree signifies personal success, but for James Ferguson ’77, M.D., M.P.H. ’15, it means more. One of the first to graduate from the College of Nursing and Public Health’s Master of Public Health program, he said his degree means an opportunity to improve the health of people across the continents.
In his 30 years as a family physician, Dr. Ferguson has gained immense medical knowledge and skills, but he knew little about public health systems.
“I want to help other people. … Just having the desire wasn’t enough. I needed the knowledge, and Adelphi gave me that knowledge,” Dr. Ferguson said of Adelphi’s M.P.H. program.
He expressed his excitement about returning to school, detailing important topics such as sanitation, disaster preparedness, food and water safety, and other areas of focus in his studies.
Closer to home, Dr. Ferguson also runs free clinics for the Eastern Farm Workers Association and for residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Philip Alcabes, Ph.D., a professor in Adelphi’s public health program, praised “Dr. Ferguson’s perspectives, drawn from long experience providing care in all parts of the world.” Stories of his travels “contributed terrifically to our classroom discussions,” he added.
“I’m honored to have been Dr. Ferguson’s professor and adviser,” Dr. Alcabes continued. “He is an exemplar of the field of public health. He is a physician who has long been dedicated, in his deepest essence, to caring and healing. His new knowledge and skills will broaden his perspective on disease prevention and health promotion as aspects of human rights and social improvement. His studying with us was a great example of the high-level intellectual partnership between students and faculty that a strong graduate program can offer.”
Dr. Ferguson understands just how important these topics are. Since 2007, he has traveled to Honduras, Haiti, Ghana and Russia on medical mission trips with groups such as Global Medical Brigades and Heart to Heart, as well as with renowned doctor and humanitarian Patch Adams—the subject of a 1998 Robin Williams film.
“I realized when doing these trips that I need to do something more than just medicine. Using my knowledge of public health, I will help a lot of people have longer, healthier, better lives,” Dr. Ferguson said.