A holistic approach to patient health

Dr. Sylvia Trent Adams Svp And Chief Strategy OfficerGrowing up, Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams’ grandfather used to always say, “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

That phrase has been true for the former Deputy Surgeon General since the first day she began working as a nurse in the Army. She believes her purpose in life is to serve others, and that is seen throughout every aspect of the remarkable journey that led her to The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

Throughout her entire career, she has taken a holistic approach to patient health.

“Providing a holistic approach to care is not just about health care, it is about the whole person and everything that affects his or her life,” explained Dr. Trent-Adams.

Dr. Trent-Adams started her career as an Army nurse, primarily focusing on trauma, oncology and preventive medicine. She found her love for public health policy during this time and quickly learned how sheltered she was in the army. In the civilian health care system, easy access to medicine and treatment was a luxury many didn’t have, especially HIV patients.

“There were so many people who were dying, and the judgment and neglect that happened around those individuals broke my heart,” Dr. Trent-Adams said.

She took that heartbreak and was determined to make an impact. Making an impact is exactly what she did as she assisted in managing the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which helps poor or underserved people living with HIV and those training to be health care professionals.

“If you are poor, you don’t have access to health care, and your life expectancy diminishes,” she said.

In addition to her work around HIV, Dr. Trent-Adams also led efforts for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Zika outbreak, the Flint Water Crisis, the opioid response and COVID-19. It was her work in the opioid response that led her to HSC for the first time in January 2020 when she came to speak. 

“The students and faculty at HSC left a lasting impression on me,” Dr. Trent-Adams said.

After retiring in 2020 from the U.S. Public Health Service, she was approached by HSC President Dr. Michael Williams about coming to HSC.

Now as HSC’s Chief Strategy Officer, Dr. Trent-Adams is continuing to fulfill her purpose as she works to further HSC’s Whole Health Initiative.

Leading this initiative continues the holistic approach she has followed her entire career. Whether it is promoting whole health through a patient-centric approach to medicine or finding ways to end health disparities, she tirelessly continues to serve her community.

“The vision of whole health is to give individuals the information and tools they need to get what they need to make the most informed health decisions,” Dr. Trent-Adams said. “Whole Health puts patients at the center of everything that is related to their health. It’s not just their symptom, it’s their entire body, their environment and their ability to obtain the appropriate treatment.”

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