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Emily Kirkwood

Emily Kirkwood

What is your hometown?
Danville, CA

What are your interests/hobbies?
Binge-watching TV, going to group fitness classes, and playing with my dog

What are your favorite Chicago activities?
Exploring restaurants across the city but particularly in the West Loop

Did you work full time through the program?
Sure did! 

Was time commitment reasonable? 

Were you able to balance work and school?

Professionally, what are you doing now?
I work at the American Institutes for Research on projects focused on effective, efficient, and patient-centered healthcare, with a particular emphasis on increasing patients’ and the public’s involvement and voice in our healthcare system. I specialize in communications and, since the MSHC program, also have started to work in qualitative research and stakeholder education. I also conduct similar work on K-12 education projects.     

Tell us about a “Northwestern moment.” More specifically, was there a moment either in class or otherwise associated with the program where something really clicked for you?
For my final paper for Dr. Scherr’s class on difficult conversations, I was proposing an intervention based on motivational interviewing. I didn’t realize I was missing an important piece to the puzzle until a classmate filled it in for me, based on her professional experience in the area. I already valued the knowledge and insights that my classmates offered, but this experience drove home for me that this network was one of the most valuable aspects of the MSHC program, both personally and professionally.

How has the program changed the way you view healthcare?
Prior to the MSHC program, I thought about healthcare problems as discrete issues. I think a significant benefit of the program is the diverse curriculum, which encourages students to think about health and healthcare more holistically. 

Did you discover anything new or unexpected at Northwestern?
I didn’t quite anticipate how much I would enjoy—or miss after it ended—spending my Saturday’s learning and exploring new ideas with smart, passionate, motivated classmates.