The Best of Times for Health Policy


Kate Goodrich, MD, medical officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), says she frequently is surprised at how much her work as an academic hospitalist is valued in her current role in planning health policy and overseeing government quality and comparative-effectiveness initiatives.

Dr. Goodrich was director of the Division of Hospital Medicine at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., before an abiding interest in policy development led her to seek a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars fellowship to Yale University, which started in 2008. From there, she landed a government position in March 2010.

"I really loved hospital medicine, but I became more aware of the issues the country grapples with, such as poor access to primary care for large numbers of patients," she says. "I became interested in researching those questions even before I really knew what health services research was. I found myself drawn like a magnet to the policy stuff, especially during the 2008 election, with everything policy-related in the news. It finally dawned on me that if I love this so much, why not see if I can make it a career?"

During a summer internship at HHS in 2009, she enjoyed the mentorship of another hospitalist leader, Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, SFHM, who then held the job she now holds and currently is chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Given all of the focus on health care reform, Dr. Goodrich says, this is the best of times to be working for the government, "especially for someone who strongly feels that health reform was needed."

She recommends ways other hospitalists can learn more about health policy and participate in its development:

• Start by becoming involved in local quality initiatives in the hospital and the community.

• Join SHM's Public Policy Committee.

• Follow health policy blogs, websites, and other resources offered by HHS, SHM, and private groups, such as the Commonwealth Fund.

• Look into the health policy fellowships or training opportunities offered by a number of national organizations, such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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