Baton Rouge Family Physician Receives Public Health Award at American Academy of Family Physicians Annual Meeting

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Megan Moriarty
Public Relations Strategist
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237 Ext. 6052

BOSTON – Rani G. Whitfield, M.D., a family physician from Baton Rouge, LA., was awarded the 2009 Public Health Award by the American Academy of Family Physicians at its annual meeting in Boston, MA. The AAFP’s Public Health Award recognizes individuals who have made or are making extraordinary contributions to the health of the American public. The award was one of 10 presented for exceptional achievement in the field of family medicine at the AAFP’s Scientific Assembly, one of the largest gatherings of primary care providers in the country.

Better known as the "Hip Hop Doc" among the youth of his community, Whitfield has dedicated himself to educating children, teens and the general public about healthy lifestyles by utilizing elements of popular culture.

Whitfield's alias was born after he shared his love of urban music with the players on the Southern Lab High School football team for which he served as team physician. He soon realized the "Hip Hop Doc" could be more than a nickname, and started writing rhymes that contained public health messages and performing them over hip hop beats. The songs dealt with breast cancer, hypertension, HIV, stroke, diabetes, sickle cell anemia and a number of other health topics, particularly those that afflict the African American community.

With the rhymes recorded, Whitfield began marketing these tracks to local radio stations and soon launched on a year-long educational campaign called the "Hip Hop Medical Moment. Five days a week, his recordings were aired during the evening drive on WEMX Max 94.1 FM in Baton Rouge.

Whitfield has gone on to create a full-length album, "Tha Hip Hop Doc Presents: State of Emergency." Working with other Baton Rouge musicians, Whitfield wrote and recorded songs dealing with health issues like high cholesterol and obesity.

He also takes his show on the road, bringing music-driven presentations on preventative medicine, teen pregnancy, physical fitness, drugs of sexual assault, HIV/AIDS, discrepancies in health care, and diabetes to schools, congregations and civic groups across Louisiana and the south.

Whitfield also created a comic book series, "Tha Hip Hop Doc and the Legion of Health" to reach youths with the message of healthy lifestyles. The three-part series pits the Hip Hop Doc and a group of super heroes against obesity, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases and a villain named Bad Heart.

He launched as a place to store his music and comics, and as another means of addressing health issues and hot topics affecting teens and young adults.

In 2004, Whitfield was selected to appear on the Black Entertainment Television network's hit show "106 & Park," where he discussed AIDS in the African American community along with other noted professionals. In 2005, he helped host an online chat in recognition of World AIDS Day on And, in 2007, Whitfield served as the medical expert for a one-hour special on BET entitled, "What You Know About That," which discussed sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases.

In 2005, Whitfield founded Tha’ Hip-Hop Healthy Coalition, a non-profit partnership of health industry and community leaders dedicated to educating teens and young adults on health issues using interactive workshops, health fairs, concerts and empowerment seminars.

Whitfield has been an active member in a number of professional organizations on the local, state and national levels. Among his many activities, he serves as the National Spokesperson for The American Heart and American Stroke Associations, the Governor's Council On Physical Fitness and Sports, the Baton Rouge Mayor's HIV/AIDS Task Force and the Louisiana Health Care Review Clinical Advisory Board. A member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Medical Society and EBR Prison Association, Whitfield is one of two physicians responsible for the health care of the inmates in Baton Rouge.

Whitfield has been recognized with numerous awards and honors including the YMCA Black Achievers Award, the NAACP Freedom Award, the American Stroke Association's Ambassador Award and most recently the American Stroke Association’s Legacy Award, the highest award given to individuals who volunteer their time to helping the association spread their message. Whitfield has also contributed chapters to several books including, Not in My Family, I am a Father, Family Affair and written articles for multiple magazines and online pages on health including Ebony/Jet.

Whitfield received his medical degree from the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. and undergraduate degree from Southern University and Agricultural Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, where he graduated cum laude. He completed his residency in family medicine at St. Elizabeth Family Practice at Franciscan Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. He also completed a fellowship in sports medicine at the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. He has a Certificate of Added Qualification in sports medicine.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website,