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Dr. Jennifer A. Giroux





Year of Birth / Death

b. 1962


Medical School

University of South Dakota School of Medicine


Geography

LOCATION
Georgia
LOCATION
Minnesota


Career Path

Internal medicine: Epidemiology
Dr. Jennifer A. Giroux



Inspiration

At 22 years old, while traveling in Asia, I realized that, compared to many women from developing countries, as an American my perceived limitations were in my head. Following this new awareness, I felt a responsibility to the women of the world to take advantage of opportunities I had as an American. American Indian communities were in need of physicians and my lack of education was a correctable matter and no longer a perceived limitation.



Biography

Jennifer A. Giroux, M.D., built her career in epidemiology as an epidemic intelligence service officer with the Indian Health Service, where she promoted preventive measures to lower the rates of tuberculosis and HIV infection, cervical and breast cancers, and diabetes, among American Indian populations. She now works in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Born in 1962, Jennifer Giroux, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, moved frequently while growing up in South Dakota and Montana. From kindergarten through high school, she attended a dozen different schools. Without ever thinking of going into medicine, she studied political science at Montana State University in Bozeman and graduated in 1984. It was only while traveling through Asia as a young adult that she understood how she could make a difference by becoming a physician. "At 22 years old," she remembers, "I realized that, compared to many women from developing countries, as an American my perceived limitations were in my head. Following this new awareness, I felt a responsibility to the women of the world to take advantage of opportunities I had as an American." When she returned to the United States, she took pre-medicine courses and was later accepted at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine in Vermillion. She earned her doctor of medicine degree there in 1996.

Following an internship at the University of North Dakota and MeritCare Health Systems in Fargo, North Dakota, Dr. Giroux trained in epidemiology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indian Health Service at its western headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1997, Dr. Giroux was recognized for her work in breast and cervical cancer education and prevention when the National Cancer Institute awarded her its Reaching People Through Partnership Award.

Dr. Giroux became interested in tuberculosis while investigating the high tuberculosis mortality rates among American Indians. Her 1998 research showed that of South Dakota's seventeen American Indian cases of tuberculosis, nine resulted in death. Reviewing all American Indian cases of tuberculosis, Dr. Giroux found a 41 percent case-fatality rate. Since 2002 Dr. Giroux has worked in the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Along with her work for the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Giroux is completing a residency in preventive medicine.

A member of the Association of American Indian Physicians and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, Dr. Giroux is also the mother of three daughters. In 1997, Dr. Giroux was recognized for her work in breast and cervical cancer education and prevention when the National Cancer Institute awarded her its Reaching People Through Partnership Award. In 2000 she was honored as a Role Model for Lakota Women.



Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

Having changed schools twelve times in twelve years (kindergarten through grade twelve), I'd had a really turbulent education. My biggest obstacle was incorporating "individualistic" social behavior into my performance when my values were more "collectively" oriented.

How do I make a difference?

I work to bring a voice for American Indian health to the table and to facilitate collaboration with American Indian communities to identify and meet our health needs.

Who was my mentor?

My mother showed me how to "make it" and achieve. A single parent with four children, she worked her way through school eventually obtaining her law degree. Dr. Thomas K. Welty has been my long-term mentor, assigning me to projects that allowed me to follow my heart—which in turn brought a rhythm to my life that helped me endure medical training.