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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Kimberly Rask

Dr. Kimberly Rask always wanted to be a doctor. However, when she went to Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, she didn’t want to major in science. Instead she majored in economics – a subject she found fascinating. Pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, Rask abandoned the study of economics and headed off to the University of Pennsylvania to earn her medical degree.

Rask went on to be a resident at Emory and an intern at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. While there, Dr. Rask discovered different patterns and variations in health care. “I started thinking about well, why is this different? Why do people practice medicine differently – why did this happen,” Rask explained. “It was clear to me that there was a total range of practice and I thought economics had a lot to do with this.”

Coming full circle, Rask became intrigued with the access and expectations associated with the health care system. “As I was going through residency I realized that I wanted to do more. I wanted to understand why physicians practice the way they do.”

Dr. Rask learned about the Clinical Scholars Program through research in the library. She found many listings of different kinds of fellowships, but the Clinical Scholars Program caught her eye. “I didn’t know anyone who went through the Program, but I talked to my advisors and they said it’d be a perfect fit,” Rask continues. “I applied and I absolutely loved it!”

Rask spent two years in the Program and gained tremendous value from the experience. “Being around the exceptional faculty and the brilliant Scholars is a really rich environment to cross pollinate.”

After completing the Clinical Scholars Program, Rask stayed at the University of Pennsylvania to earn a PhD in health economics. She went on to pursue a career in academic medicine and is currently the Director of the Emory Center on Health Outcomes and Quality, as well as an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Rollins School of Public Health and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine. She was also the Attending Physician at the Urgent Care Center at Grady Memorial Hospital from 1991-2006.  

She has earned many awards including being named a Fellow by the Woodruff Leadership Academy, Woodruff Health Sciences Center; Best Poster Presentation, 1994 Annual Meeting, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine; and the John Heinz Honorable Mention Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Social Insurance National Academy of Social Insurance.

Rask credits the Clinical Scholars Program with teaching her how to think about difficult issues and how to do research in a way that teaches us how to solve problems. “I would absolutely recommend the Clinical Scholars Program. There is no other program that has the eclectic, policy relevant, systems-thinking, advocacy-oriented, collaborative curriculum that this Program has. It was invaluable to my career.”

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