Member Spotlight: Greg Lakin

June 28, 2018|3:24 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Greg Lakin, DO, JDGreg Lakin, DO, JD, is chief medical officer for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. In this role, Lakin participates in ASTHO matters on the agency's behalf. Lakin has spent his career working in the field of medicine as a family practitioner, as well as in emergency medicine, skilled nursing, and long-term care. Previously, Lakin was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. He received a law degree from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College, followed by a medical degree from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.

What was the experience or motivating factor that compelled you to become a state health official? 

The desire to be involved in treating social ills such as drug and alcohol addiction, as well mental health. I also have a desire to promote and coach others toward wellness and wellbeing.

Was there someone who influenced you to lead a health department?

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer contacted me, asking that I get involved to help our state through its substance use disorder issues.

What is your morning ritual?

Watching the sun rise every morning with a cup of coffee.

What do you do to stay healthy?

Greater than 10,000 steps per day, which involves daily walks.

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Anywhere involving warm water.

What are your favorite hobbies?

Fishing and boating—I love the environment.

What is your state doing to address the opioid epidemic?

Kansas has an active Governor’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force chaired by myself as well as an Opiate Prescription Advisory Committee. Both are creating and enacting life-saving measures involving prevention, education, treatment, and other facets.

How did your career in public health begin?

I started as a family practice physician, becoming more involved in addiction treatment for the last 20 years.  

How has public health changed during your time in the field?
There’s a greater attempt at prevention, as opposed to waiting for illness and trying to treat it.

What do you love most about the public health work you do?

Knowing that we are making a positive difference in the lives of others.

What are your primary public health priorities?

The primary public health priorities of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment include substance use disorders, mental health issues, as well as creating a positive, self-determining confidence among youth populations.

What is your vision for the future of public health?

It’s my hope that the work of public health can help empower individuals to become more active and engaged in their own physical and mental health.

What are three things public health leaders can do to educate and engage the communities they serve?

The key things are to educate, excite, and engage.

What is something you’re most thankful to have been a part of during your career in public health?

It has been a true honor to chair the Governor’s Substance Use Disorder Task Force.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned during your career in public health?

The importance of consistent but continuous baby steps, as well as a working knowledge of the legislative process. My prior experience as a state representative has come in handy.

How has social media helped advance public health within your state?

Social and digital media provides the opportunity for more extensive and comprehensive information with only a keystroke—which makes our jobs easier and more effective.