Ukadike Uses College of Public Health Education to Help Provide Well-Rounded Services to His Patients

By Kev' Moye

He’s a product of the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health’s Master of Public Health (MPH) program. Ukadike later went to the New York Institute of Technology, where he earned his doctorate. He appreciates how the MPH curriculum helped position him to ultimately practice medicine.

“My experience in the College of Public Health was fantastic,” Ukadike said. “I was fortunate to take the public health law class taught by Kevin Ryan J.D., MA, associate dean for Student and Alumni Affairs, during my first year in the program. That was important for me. The rapport he and I developed still helps me a lot. Faculty like him made my experience in the college great.”

Ukadike also appreciated how the college’s instructors had real-life public health experiences that influenced how they taught and led research projects. Ukadike said it added a genuine element to the info they presented.

“My public health education opened my eyes to numerous situations that are also relevant to my clinical practice today,” Ukadike said. “The college exposed me to so many realities that people face. It helps me consider the whole person when practicing — rather than just medicine alone.”

As for hardships, they hit close to home for Ukadike.

Currently, his dad is a psychological counselor at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and his mom is the director of education and communications for the UAMS Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. However, before Ukadike’s parents achieved their success, they had to overcome their fair share of difficulties.

His father is from Nigeria and grew up without running water. His dad also lived through the Nigerian civil war during which he saw children starving in the streets. As for Ukadike’s mom, she’s a native of rural Northeast Arkansas and was raised in a dilapidated house that leaked badly and had heat in only one room.

Knowing how his parents lived when they were young, inspires Ukadike to always provide a helping hand to people in need — especially if children are involved.

“Both of my parents emerged from a background of poverty,” he said. “For me, the combination of being biracial and hearing stories of the struggle my parents went through made me curious about how I could help to improve things for Arkansans. People need opportunities. With my background in public health and medicine, my goal is to put myself in a position to bring about widespread change on a population level.”

Ukadike’s interest in public health grew from his parents’ life experiences.

“My desire to help others started at a young age,” he said.  “Being so close to the medical field, combined with growing up with an African father and a white mother — both of whom had seen and experienced tough times — in hindsight, that all helped me discover my interest in public health.”

After completing his undergraduate education at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Ukadike — who’s a community medicine liaison for his residency program — returned home to Central Arkansas. He enrolled in the MPH program, which he says provided him with incredible opportunities.

“Working to get the Master of Public Health degree put me in position to serve,” he said. “It was a fulfilling experience. We studied and went out and did things to help people. We registered people to vote. We helped with housing, renting rights. We were literally working to address the public health situations we were learning about.”

For medical students, entering the program to also get the MPH is ideal, Ukadike added.

“If you go to UAMS for medical school, I strongly suggest the dual track program to get the MPH to go with it,” he said. “The program helps you gain an understanding of the different population groups that you may not have much experience working with, going into med school. That broadens your horizons and makes you a better physician.”