Alumnus chats with Pitt Public Health about public health journey and new book releases

Scott Cook (BCHS '93) had a busy summer this year. In addition to his day job as medical director of Recovery Centers of America in Monroeville, he also found time to release two books aimed at teaching adults and children how to find fulfillment and happiness in their lives.

These two principles are also core to Scott Cook’s professional ethos. While some students graduate with a degree in public health and end up pursuing medicine, nursing, social work, or even administration, Cook says the passion to be of service has been the core of his work.

Scott Cook’s journey to public health began at a young age. After losing his mother to cancer at a very young age, Cook was inspired to help others. This led him to pursue a career in cancer research. Unfortunately, that decision was not the fit he had hoped it would be.

So, while working as a researcher for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he decided to enroll in the School of Public Health.  The decision to pursue his MPH degree, Cook says, was one of the best decisions he ever made. Public health was able to provide him with the human connection that he was missing in his research career - “If you have a passion for something and you want to help society, public health is the perfect platform because it’s kind of an entrée into the giving professions.”

During the service-learning component of his studies, Cook gained invaluable experience through a program known as the Greater Pittsburgh Faith-Based Health Initiative. He began to understand health problems prevalent in the Pittsburgh community, such as violence and homicide, which were only just beginning to be seen as public health issues. This was the precursor to the social determinants of health, which allow us to see that what happens in society can have an adverse or positive impact on one’s health status.

Like his professional goals, Scott Cook’s literary works also center around service. Both of his titles were released on August 15. What Happened 2 Charlie? Find Out on the Brain Train is a children’s book that teaches kids tools to help them grow into good humans. He wrote this book under the pseudonym “Dr. Cookie” – a name given to him by his pediatric patients. The adult title The Prescription to Heal Your Career encourages people to examine their careers in the same way a doctor examines patients - through examination, diagnosis and treatment.

“The future of public health is bright – so glad to see my school is doing more to try and get people to go into the field.”