Local Women: Rebecca Malouin

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An East Lansing native and professor at Michigan State University, Rebecca Malouin is committed to improving public health care both locally and abroad. Her most recent work centers on physician–patient relationships and primary care practices transforming into patient–centered medical homes. Q: HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE PUBLIC HEALTH FIELD? A: I attended the University of Michigan and planned to go to medical school, but I thought it would be helpful to gain more life experience first, so I went to serve in the Peace Corps as a health volunteer in West Africa. While I was working in a clinic there, I realized that many of the problems I was seeing weren’t going to be solved by the clinic alone. They were more structural, environmental and social issues, so I became very interested in that aspect. I then attended Johns Hopkins University for a masters and doctoral degree, both in public health. Q: WHAT IS A PATIENT–CENTERED MEDICAL HOME AND WHY IS IT SOMETHING YOU ARE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT? A: The health care system in the US is broken and unsustainable in its current form, and most stakeholders have come to the conclusion that primary care is a logical starting point in health care reform. The Patient–Centered Medical Home is a proposed innovative model to improving primary health care and the first step in repairing the health care system. The ideal Patient–Centered Medical Home is a health care setting that facilitates relationships between individual patients and their primary care providers, usually their personal or family physicians. It’s important to control costs while also keeping an eye on the other key outcomes: patients having a satisfactory relationship with their physicians and healthier patients. As an external evaluator for several pilots of the new models of care, I’m most interested in how the practices and patients experience the new model. I work with them to determine what works and what doesn’t so that we can continue to move toward greater improvements. Q: WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH FOR HEALTH SERVICES IN THE LANSING COMMUNITY THROUGH YOUR WORK? A: My research is in Michigan, across the country and in several other countries. However, I live in East Lansing and work at Michigan State University. I grew up here and feel very fortunate to have such an interesting position to potentially contribute to improving health care across communities in Michigan. I’m hoping that the lessons we learn through our research will be applicable everywhere, including both our local area and the entire nation, as well as internationally. As the saying goes, we are thinking globally and acting locally.
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