Yvette Roubideaux

First Woman to Serve as Director of the IHS


YR portrait B&W On May 6, 2009 the Senate unanimously confirmed Yvette Roubideaux, Rosebud Sioux, MD, MPH, as the Director of the Indian Health Service. She was sworn in on May 12, 2009. Roubideaux is the first woman to serve as the director of the IHS in its 54-year history. The IHS is responsible for providing preventive, curative, and community health care to approximately 1.9 million of the nation’s 3.3 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in hospitals, clinics, and other settings throughout the United States.

Roubideaux recently served as assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. Her work included teaching and research on Indian health issues, with a focus on the quality of diabetes care for American Indians/Alaska Natives and Indian health policy. She was the Co-Director of the Coordinating Center for the Special Diabetes Program for Indian Demonstration Projects that has implemented diabetes prevention and cardiovascular disease prevention in activities in 66 American Indian and Alaska Native communities. She is currently faculty in the University of Colorado Native Elder Resource Center Native Investigator Program. Roubideaux previously worked in the Indian Health Service as a medical officer and clinical director on the San Carlos Indian Reservation and in the Gila River Indian Community.

Roubideaux has worked on a number of national committees related to diabetes, including the National Diabetes Program (NDEP) Steering Committee, the NDEP American Indian Subcommittee (Chair), and is the current Chair of the American Diabetes Association Awakening the Spirit Native American Team. She was also the President of the Association of American Indian Physicians for 1999-2000 and was appointed to the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Minority Health in 2000.  She is co-editor of the American Public Health Association (APHA) book entitled “Promises to Keep: Public Health Policy for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the 21st Century.”

Recruiting American Indian and Alaska Native students into health professional and research was also part of Roubideaux’s work.  She was the Director of the University of Arizona/Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Indians Into Medicine (INMED) Program and Director of the Student Development Core of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona/University of Arizona American Indian Research Center for Health. Roubideaux is one of the founders and past co-Chair of the Native Research Network, Inc., and received the
2004 Indian Physician of the Year Award from the Association of American Indian Physicians. She also received the 2002 Outstanding American Indian Faculty Award at the University of Arizona.

Roubideaux received her MD from Harvard Medical School in 1989 and her MPH from Harvard School of Public Health in 1997.  She completed the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston,
Massachusetts and was board certified in internal medicine.  She completed the Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy in 1997.

2-1-10 Dr. Roubideaux as IHS Director, meeting with members of the National Indian Health Board.

To read Dr. Roubideaux’s blog, biography, statements, letters to tribal leaders and updates on priorities, see the
IHS Director’s Corner,