U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD, grew up in the community of Coachella, California, where both of his parents were farmworkers.
Dr. Ruiz achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a physician through public education. After graduating magna cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles, he went on to Harvard University, where he earned his MD as well as an MPH from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a second MPH from the T.H. Chan School of Public Health, becoming the first Latino to earn three graduate degrees from Harvard University. He completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and a fellowship in international emergency medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Dr. Ruiz returned home after completing his medical training and began working as an emergency physician at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. He started a premedical mentorship program for young aspiring doctors, which has grown to include more than 100 local students. The program became part of the University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine, where Dr. Ruiz served as a senior associate dean.
In 2010, Dr. Ruiz flew to Haiti immediately following the earthquake and served as the medical director for the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division awarded him the Commander’s Award for Public Service for his work.
In 2012, Dr. Ruiz beat some very long odds and defeated a 14-year incumbent to win the California District 36 U.S. House seat.
Dr. Ruiz is married and lives with his wife, Monica, and their twin girls, Skye and Sage, in Palm Desert, California.
ACEP Now caught up with Dr. Ruiz to talk about his work in the U.S. House and about his thoughts on the experience so far.
LAC: What is the biggest difference between running for the U.S. House as an incumbent rather than as an “outside” challenger?
RR: The first big difference is that people actually answer my calls now! The most important difference really is that I now have a record of advocacy for my constituents. My record in Congress shows that I really kept my word when I promised that I would come back to the Coachella Valley and work every day on behalf of my constituents and the American people. The reason I ran for Congress in the first place was to make a difference in the lives of people that I represent and serve. Every day in Washington, I never forget about how we approach problems in the ED, focusing on using objective data to diagnose the problem and then applying the right treatment to fix a problem. As a member of Congress, I try to bring that approach every day to understanding and fixing the problems that face our country. To me, that’s the biggest difference between an EM doc like me and some career politicians who just want to get elected again.