Dwayne Jarman

Jarman_2007_07 Dwayne Jarman, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, is a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) with a master's degree in public health (MPH). Currently he is a prevention specialist with the Indian Health Service. His journey to this position has been rich and full.

Exploring New Frontiers

Dr. Dwayne Jarman was raised on a small farm south of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sharing his father’s love of animals, young Dwayne helped care for the chickens, cattle, pigs, and hunting dogs. On his school breaks, Dwayne, who was considering a career as a veterinarian, accompanied Dr. Chris Herring, a local veterinarian, on farm visits.

In the summer between his junior and senior year of high school, Dwayne attended an enrichment program at Cornell University where he worked as a veterinary technician. The following summer he took part in the SUPER Program [Summer University Program Excellence Required] at Michigan State University, which he says gave him and others “a jump on other students coming into college.”

Clearly, Dr. Jarman demonstrated his potential for becoming a veterinarian because that fall he entered the undergraduate program at Michigan State University as a scholar in the College of Veterinary Medicine. As a scholar, Dwayne was guaranteed admission to the veterinary school as long as he completed the school’s requirements and maintained a high grade point average. During his undergraduate years, he participated in the Vetward Bound Program and received scholarship funding as a Native American Scholar.

In his sophomore year of college, Dwayne was a Native American minority aide in the Office of Minority Student Affairs. He and the rest of the team from that office tried to help other students remain in college by providing individual guidance, programs, newsletters, and other forms of support. That year the Office of Supportive Service proclaimed Dwayne “Sophomore of the Year” in part because he maintained a high grade point average while being actively involved in community service.

Within three years of entering college, Dwayne had completed the coursework he needed for entering veterinary school. That summer he participated in ESP III, the summer enrichment program at the veterinary school at MSU, which he describes as “a mock version of what veterinary school is like.” He says, “ESP III is an excellent program for Native students interested in veterinary medicine.”

During that summer program, Dwayne met both Dr. Lowrie, who he says was “an awesome mentor” and Dr. John Kaneene, “a world, renowned veterinarian epidemiologist”. Dwayne says, “Dr. Kaneene told us about a family that had been exposed to a bat with rabies. I was very interested in the way problems like rabies can be transmitted from animals to people. I realized that community/population medicine is a fascinating field, and I wanted to pursue it further.”

Interested in the Big Picture

The care of individual animals is a major focus of veterinary school. Dwayne knew that it was important to become competent in this area, so he worked hard at his studies, but, he confesses, he was more interested in the “big picture”. He wanted to become an infectious disease veterinary epidemiologist and travel the world on outbreak investigations.

For two summers during veterinary school Dwayne was able to take some steps toward his dream. He went to Thailand as part of a National Institute of Health Minority International Research Training grant. “The first year we tried to find enteric and blood parasitic infections in horses and cattle located in the hills of Northern Thailand,” he recalls. “During the second summer another student and I looked at parasite problems in racing and riding horses in Chiang Mai. This enabled one to compare the parasite prevalence (burden) between the two groups of horses.”

Although he enjoyed the experience in Thailand and felt that he learned a lot, Dwayne knew that to do the best possible work, he needed more skills in epidemiology and other public and community health areas.

Building Skills in Public Health

Following his graduation from veterinary school, Dwayne entered the Master of Public Health program at the University of Michigan. He did a year-long internship in epidemiology with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. His project was developing, piloting and administering a community health needs assessment tool and then analyzing and reporting the survey data to one tribal health department.

Gratitude for Support

Dwayne believes that what he has accomplished is not “extra ordinary” He says, “There’s no way I could be in my present position without the support and guidance of friends, family, and advisors. I want students to know that with work and persistence they can find themselves in a similar position. They need someone who believes in them, and, most of all, they need to believe in themselves.
This article, written by Jane Westberg, was originally published in the Autumn 2002 issue of Winds of Change. (The cover artist is Virginia Stroud, United Keetoowah Bank of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.)

Update 2010

In 2008, Dr. Jarman joined the Indian Health Service Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, Division of Clinical and Community Services, Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program as a prevention specialist. His work includes supporting the IHS “Best and Promising Practices in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention” website and the development of the IHS community needs assessment instruments and tools.

Update 2007

After earning his MPH in epidemiology in 2002, Dr. Jarman was awarded an 8-week long James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Disease Fellowship at the CDC. Minority graduate students engage in a rigorous program of public health research and/or intervention that they summarize at the end of the session in a scientific presentation. Dwayne developed and administered an infectious cause of disease survey to appropriate CDC staff.

Next Dr. Jarman wanted to do a project that would benefit his tribe. Serving as a health consultant to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Dwayne used his new skills to design and administer a community health and housing needs assessment. He analyzed the results and gave this information to his tribe and tribal leaders so they could use it in planning health care services and tribal member housing needs.

In 2003, Dwayne returned to the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council as an emergency preparedness coordinator. His main job was helping tribes prepare for possible outbreaks of disease or other public health emergencies. His responsibilities included coordinating tribal preparedness efforts with local, state and federal partners and designing and implementing tribal and tribal/county emergency exercises. One of his accomplishments was coordinating two regional tribal emergency preparedness conferences that focused on enhancing state, local, and tribal collaboration. In his spare time, Dwayne promoted veterinary services at tribes, and volunteered with the Vilas County Humane Society, where he provided an at-cost spray/neuter program for cats and dogs.

In 2004, while he was serving as an emergency preparedness coordinator, Dwayne was selected to participate in the Kellogg Management Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Health (ELPH), based at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The fellowship included intensive on-site workshops, personalized coaching, and participation in action learning teams. Dwayne felt that the fellowship improved his work place effectiveness and efficiency.

In 2005, the CDC offered Dwayne one of the coveted positions as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer. Only 60 to 80 people are selected from about 300 applications. Alumni of this program have gone on to become some of the nation's premier medical and public health leaders. Dwayne spent his EIS training period at the North Dakota Department of Health, concentrating on how to identify and measure public health issues scientifically. He studied binge drinking in relation to occupation and found that it was most prevalent in food and drink servers.(http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2007/oct/06_0152.htm) When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, Dwayne was one of the first to volunteer to help. On his deployment, he aided in a shelter surveillance system in Louisiana aiming to identify the health needs of displaced persons; Dwayne also helped implement a rapid community and mental health needs assessment. (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5502a5.htm)

Dr. Jarman says that the CDC Preventive Medicine Fellowship Program emphasizes the development of leadership and management skills through participation in supervised field experience in a state or federal public health agency. As a member of the CDC Alcohol Team, Dwayne is particularly interested in learning about effective strategies for preventing excessive drinking and seeing how these strategies might be used to help reduce alcohol-related harms among American Indians and Alaska Natives, including alcohol-attributable deaths and injuries from vehicular crashes and domestic violence.
After his fellowship with CDC, Dwayne plans to relocate to Montana with his family. Dr. Jarman is married to Kirsten Matoy Carlson (Cherokee) who is completing her PhD in political science and will join the Indian Law Resource Center (http://www.indianlaw.org/) as a staff attorney this fall. Together they have one daughter, Grace Walela Jarman. While in Montana, Dwayne is confident that his experiences will help him continue exploring new frontiers as he works to help his people.