October 11, 2022 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
After an extensive, nationwide search, the Department of Health Services Policy and Management (HSPM) welcomed Brad Wright over the summer as their new chair. The health services researcher brings expertise in addressing inequities in health care delivery and a passion for helping others succeed.
“Dr. Wright’s deep experience in areas of existing strength within the Arnold School, such as health disparities and rural health delivery, make him the ideal candidate to lead this productive department," says Dean Thomas Chandler. "His life experiences growing up in the rural South also give him the compassion and understanding needed for the multiple health policy and service delivery challenges that we face in South Carolina.”
Our department has outstanding faculty doing amazing research, a dedicated group of hard-working staff, and stellar students from across the state, the nation and the globe who will become the next generation of health care administrators, public health practitioners and health services researchers.
-Brad Wright, chair for the Department of Health Services Policy and Management
Wright can trace his commitment to public health back to his upbringing in southeast Georgia. He grew up observing two major factors that shaped his perspective on life … and his future profession: 1) health inequities related to race, ethnicity, income, education and rurality; 2) the socioeconomic diversity of his own family (e.g., one grandfather living in rural Georgia dropped out of school at the age of eight to help raise his family after his father’s untimely death, kicking off a lifelong struggle with literacy and career opportunities, while the other graduated from Cornell University and enjoyed a successful career leading a major resort).
“It always felt wrong to me that some members of my family had better access to care than others, based on things beyond their control,” Wright says. “More broadly, this sense of social justice – and the inherent worth of all people – was simultaneously instilled in me as part of my religious upbringing.”
Public health came into the picture when Wright was studying biology as an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia. An honors thesis comparing the U.S. and Swedish health care systems introduced him to health policy, and he became intrigued. After a year as a county health inspector, Wright entered a master’s program in health policy at George Washington University.
“While there, I had the chance to hear Dr. Jack Geiger speak about how he came to co-found – along with Dr. Count Gibson – the first community health centers in the U.S.,” Wright says. “I was instantly enamored with health centers as instruments of change – not only by delivering primary care to improve health, but also by empowering marginalized communities and directly addressing many aspects of what we today call social determinants of health.”
An inspired Wright enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, followed by a T32 postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research. The next 10 years saw Wright serving as a faculty member with the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa before returning to his doctoral alma mater as an associate professor (this time with the School of Medicine) and co-director of the Program on Healthcare Economics and Finance at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.
Dr. Wright’s deep experience in areas of existing strength within the Arnold School, such as health disparities and rural health delivery, make him the ideal candidate to lead this productive department.
-Thomas Chandler, Dean for the Arnold School of Public Health
Over the years, Wright has refined his research program to focus on inequities in health care delivery with an emphasis on publicly insured populations (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid), primary care, emergency medicine and health politics/policy. He is looking forward to continuing this work, including the opportunity to teach and mentor students in these areas, in his new position. And, of course, Wright is also excited to tackle his leadership role.
“Our department has outstanding faculty doing amazing research, a dedicated group of hard-working staff, and stellar students from across the state, the nation and the globe who will become the next generation of health care administrators, public health practitioners and health services researchers,” he says. “My job is to ensure people know that while doing everything I can administratively to create an environment that helps our faculty, staff and students succeed.”