DR. MICHAEL NDUATI
36 Senior associate dean, University of California at Riverside School of Medicine CEO, UCR Health
AT FIRST GLANCE, a slew of achievements in healthcare and a passion for “Star Wars” appear pretty disparate. But listen to Dr. Michael Nduati and the connections begin to emerge. He’s the newly named CEO of UCR Health, the clinical enterprise of the School of Medicine at the University of California at Riverside, where he was promoted in August to senior associate dean of clinical affairs.
“I’m fascinated by the futurist potential of how the world could look,” Nduati said in explaining his love of science fiction. He brings the same sense of possibility to bear in his work as a healthcare leader. “There’s so much that our healthcare system needs to change,” said Nduati, who also has an MBA and a master’s degree in public health. “We could be much more successful than we are.”
Nduati’s achievements reflect not just his ideas, but also his ability to bring them to fruition by integrating medical education with the healthcare system at large and expanding access to care in places that need it most.
It was Nduati, who from 2012 until July was the associate dean for clinical affairs, who “played a vital role” in the creation of UCR’s medical school, which opened in 2013 with the mission of expanding medical care in underserved areas, wrote Dr. Deborah Deas, the dean of UC Riverside’s School of Medicine, in nominating him. And it was Nduati who was crucial in implementing a three-year continuity-of-care curriculum at the med school—the Longitudinal Ambulatory Care Experience, or LACE—to immerse students in real-world clinical settings.
“We need a model of health in our healthcare system, instead of a model of sickness,” Nduati said. Most providers, for instance, are not paid to make sure patients are eating well. “Those kind of simple things are what keep people healthy, but that’s not what’s reimbursed.”