Dr. Alison Galbraith learned about the Clinical Scholars program long before she actually applied. After completing her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, Galbraith worked as a research assistant with a former Clinical Scholar. “He was doing a study about people on dialysis and whether or not they had an advanced directive,” she told us. “He was interested in ethical issues, especially around things like living wills.”
Her interest in health policy was cemented during her time as a research assistant, as she studied broad issues in the medical field. When she later applied to medical school, Galbraith already knew that she wanted to have more than a private practice. “I was able to work with several people who were doing health policy research during my work study,” she told us, “So I already had that interest and experience in policy before I went to medical school.”
Galbraith left her research job when she began attending medical school at the University of Rochester. She received her M.D. in 1997 and went on to receive her M.P.H. while serving as a Clinical Scholar at the University of Washington from 2002 to 2004. As Galbraith was a pediatrician, she was especially interested in children’s health issues and their access to care. Her project looked at whether or not newborns on Medicaid had access to follow-up appointments as quickly as newborns with private insurance.
Dr. Galbraith says that the Clinical Scholars program gave her the analytic skills she needed to go to build a career in health policy. “It helped my career on a lot of levels,” she said. “The Program as a whole really exposed me to a tremendous network of amazing, smart people who were doing policy research. And it taught me a lot of really important research skills.”
After completing the Program, Galbraith continued to look at issues of children’s access to quality care and is currently an instructor in Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School and a staff pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston. Her research focuses on how health insurance affects the quality of care that vulnerable populations of children receive, with the long-term goal of helping reform children’s health policy. Her current research efforts specifically focus on how high-deductive health plans affect the use of health care services by children and families, particularly those with chronic conditions. She is researching the quality of asthma care for children from larger Medicaid and minority populations compared to the care children receive from providers with small Medicaid and minority populations.
Dr. Allison Galbraith recommends the Clinical Scholars program to any promising resident interested in health policy. “I’ve known people who have done other types of fellowships, and I really think that not many programs can compare to the resources Clinical Scholars gives you,” she says. “The amazing people that you meet and the networking opportunities really make the Program unique.”