Professor Brietta Clark

Prof. Brietta Clark: At the Forefront of Health Care Law

If it involves health care law, it involves Professor Brietta Clark.

In her tenure as a scholar, teacher and advisor, Clark has been an important force in shaping, assessing and interpreting health care law. Now, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, she has become a go-to expert for students interested in the burgeoning field, as well as journalists and citizens trying to understand it.

In a variety of ways, Clark has served as interpreter of one of the more complex pieces of legislation in recent history. She has provided commentary in the media, written posts for her Health Care Justice Blog and served as a moderator on myriad panels related to health reform.

“The new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, is the first of its kind and impacts the system in a few different ways, but doesn’t radically change the system,” she said. “A lot of what I have been teaching the past 11 years has not changed, but this significant new system of insurance, for people who aren’t already getting it through the government or employment systems, expands Medicaid.”

In order to better prepare students wishing to pursue a career in the field, Clark created the Health Care Law Course of Study. Courses of Study foster practical experience by facilitating education beyond the classroom. With Health Care Law, students may pursue private placement with a health plan as part of the Health Care Practicum. They may also participate in the  Veterans Benefits Clinic or the Disability Rights Legal Center. Students in the program have obtained externships with such organizations as the National Health Law Program and Children’s Hospital. And with the February 2013 launch of Loyola’s Health Law Alumni Chapter, networking and placement possibilities are on the rise.

“Basically, the Course of Study is an informal way of signaling to students who are interested in health law about the courses we have available, and which ones we recommend for different sub-areas of health law they are interested in. We have a bunch of courses grouped together according to the different varieties of health law,” said Clark.

As the Health Care Law Course of Study student adviser, Clark strives to present students with a variety of career-path options. She also helps them with selecting health care law courses, which cover everything from insurance issues to the rights of cancer patients.

“As an adviser, I have a lot of first-years make appointments so they can understand what health law could be, and most students who come to me have already had experience in the health field, but don’t know their options in health law,” she said. “I help students identify courses that appeal to what type of health law they want to go into, and I help them find externships at firms that match the kind of work they are interested in. Also, a number of people have been interested in a specific aspect they want to explore more deeply, so I supervise a number of papers, law review notes and research.” 

Clark continues to focus on bringing students together with alumni who practice in the field. She regularly organizes receptions and panel events.

“Immediately after our first mixer in February, there were connections made between students and alumni. We also had a great career panel of people from the variety of different fields of health law, giving students different career advice about how to pursue a career in health law and other sources that are available. It brought new and familiar alumni back to campus, and it really made students more aware and hopeful about a career in health law,” said Clark.

Focusing on health reform in her scholarship, Clark is able to use her research inside and out of the classroom. Additionally, she remains active in the health law community through her service to legal, medical and consumer-based organizations and providers.   

Recent scholarship: