Dr. Rick Rosen, December 2018.

Welcome to Dr. Rick Rosen, Deputy Health Officer

Author: Public Health Department
Date: 1/22/2019 10:39 AM

Dr. Rick Rosen brings international experience and a native Californian’s perspective to his new role as Deputy Health Officer. This broad role connects to many of our county’s most pressing health issues.

In his years as a practicing otolaryngologist, Dr. Rick Rosen served individual patients—in particular, he focused on treating children who faced injury or illness in their head or neck—while addressing systems issues in his role as a medical director. Through this experience, he “came to realize the limits of clinical medicine” in taking on the big-picture challenges with our health and health care systems.

Rick went on to earn a master’s in medical management and a master’s in public health. He then completed a preceptorship with the population health unit of the Waikato District Health Board in New Zealand, serving a region he describes as “very similar in a lot of ways” to SLO County. Working in public health, he connected with a community of people who “have a similar orientation toward trying to help everyone do better.”

Now, he’s working with teams across the department to take on issues from electronic health records to communicable disease investigations. The role demands a blend of clinical and system-level skills, and a focus on learning about the unique assets and unique risks in our community.

“It’s great to join a department that has been very proactive on different fronts,” he said. “The response to the opioid epidemic, the dental health program for kids, the lab that has been on the forefront of new tests such as those for tuberculosis … it’s really impressive for a relatively small county.”   

Prior to taking on the role of Deputy Health Officer in August 2018, Rick worked for the Waikato District Health Board, Stanford Children’s Health and Children’s Hospital Oakland. He earned his MD and master’s in medical management from the University of Southern California, and his master’s in public health from UC Berkeley. He speaks Spanish fluently and has served as a volunteer physician in Ecuador and a violence prevention volunteer in Los Angeles.  

He moved to San Luis Obispo with his wife and two children (and a recently-adopted puppy) when he accepted the role. He’s already embraced the “reasonable pace of life and sense of community” and the opportunity to walk to work.

“It’s a great community,” he said. “I’m learning why they call it the happiest place on earth.”