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North Carolina’s Top Doc
A record-setting sprinter as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, Elizabeth “Betsey” Cuervo Tilson ’93 was familiar with being on the fast track to achievement. It is a path she continued to pursue vigorously as a pediatrician and medical director for community care in North Carolina’s Wake and Johnson counties, beginning in 2003. She became a well-known public servant in the forefront of efforts to ensure North Carolina Medicaid improved its practice and provided high-quality, patient-centered care to its recipients.
In 2017, Tilson was named North Carolina’s chief medical officer and health director for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. In this role, she promotes public health and prevention activities, as well as provides guidance and oversight on a variety of cross-departmental initiatives.
“All people deserve the opportunity for health,” says Cuervo Tilson. “I have the privilege to help North Carolina transform how we define, deliver, coordinate and pay for that whole-person health. Our holistic view of health is exemplified in our work addressing the opioid epidemic, Medicaid transformation, early childhood [health issues] and social determinants of health.”
After obtaining her Dartmouth bachelor’s degree in biology, her Johns Hopkins medical degree and completing her pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins, Tilson earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she also completed a preventive medicine/public health residency. She previously served as an assistant consulting professor and cancer control specialist at Duke University Medical Center and a clinical pediatric fellow at UNC.
Tilson has been active and held leadership roles in many local, state and national pediatric, public health and preventive medicine organizations. In 2018, her public service and leadership were honored with a Woodrow Wilson Award from the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association.
“I have the privilege to help North Carolina transform how we define, deliver, coordinate and pay for that whole-person health.”