Dynamic Homes
ads@blueearthmarketing.com   712.224.5420

Interview: Dale Walker, Cherokee physician

The Oregonian interviews R. Dale Walker, a member of the Cherokee Nation who was recently recognized as the physician of the year by the Association of American Indian Physicians. Walker is the director of the One Sky Center at Oregon Health & Science University.

"Q: Why did you become a psychiatrist?

A: I grew up in rural Oklahoma. I decided I wanted to be doctor in seventh grade. My family emphasized the need to do something about the problems, to try to make a difference in Indian country. First I saw myself as a family medicine doctor somewhere in Indian country in a rural area and doing some research.

The more that I worked on it, I found that what I liked working on was chronic illnesses and difficult-to-solve problems. I kind of had a patience for that. Psychiatry was a perfect fit.

Q: Why do you specialize in addiction?

A: Once again, I like to focus on chronic illness. Addiction is far and away a visible problem in Indian country, and if you ask most anyone, they'd like to see it disappear.

Q: Tell me about the work of One Sky.

A: American Indian communities struggle because they get resources to do things, but they're time-limited. Once the grant ends, what happens to the information learned? It goes into a file cabinet.

I wanted to develop a national resource center that did something with all that information. We work with 50 tribes a year on issues of mental health and addictions. In the process, we look for programs of excellence that we promote. We also look for programs of opportunity in which we provide training and technical assistance."

Get the Story:
Native American doctor focuses on problems of addiction (The Oregonian 8/12)