Kaitlyn Dunn, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Counsel to the Inspector General

Katie Dunn

"...the MPH portion of the program helped me gain an invaluable understanding of the mechanics of our health care system that benefits me in my current work."

Associate Counsel Administrative and Civil Remedies Branch
Office of Counsel to the Inspector General
JD/MPH combined degree program, 2011

Tell us about your current job
Since March 2013, I have worked in the Administrative & Civil Remedies Branch (ACRB) of the Office of Counsel to the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  As an ACRB attorney, I represent the Office of Inspector General in administrative and civil enforcement actions brought against individuals and entities that have defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, or other Federal health care programs.  On a day-to-day basis, I work closely with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to develop and pursue False Claims Act cases against such health care providers, and I assist DOJ prosecutors in litigating and negotiating settlements arising from those cases.  Where appropriate, I negotiate Corporate Integrity Agreements that impose heightened compliance obligations on providers alleged to have engaged in fraudulent conduct.  Along with my ACRB colleagues, I also initiate and litigate actions seeking civil monetary penalties and exclusion of health care providers from participation in the Federal health care programs because of fraudulent or abusive behavior.   

What inspired you to pursue a JD/MPH degree?
After completing undergrad, I served for about two and a half years as a Legislative Correspondent to former U.S. Congressman William Delahunt.  Over that time, I developed a strong interest in and passion for health care policy.  As a result, I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree that would allow me to use the law as a tool to effectuate positive change in the areas of health care access, affordability, and quality.  Although my career interests evolved during law school, the MPH portion of the program helped me gain an invaluable understanding of the mechanics of our health care system that benefits me in my current work. 

What drew you to join the Tufts/Northeastern program?
What attracted me to the Tufts/Northeastern program was the ability to study on two different campuses, whereas many schools offer dual-degree programs that are entirely in-house.  This broadened my network of connections and exposed me to additional extracurricular and professional opportunities.  I knew that I wanted as much hands-on experience as possible to prepare me for an extremely competitive job market, and the Applied Learning Experience that I completed at Tufts was an outstanding complement to my co-ops through Northeastern.  Finally, the Tufts/Northeastern program made it possible for me to earn two degrees in 3.5 years that would otherwise have taken me five years to earn separately.

What were the highlights of the program?
I appreciated the chance to engage in vibrant discussions about cutting-edge policy questions with the students in my MPH classes, many of whom brought divergent perspectives to the table as physicians, nurses, veterinarians, researchers, or other public health practitioners.  Through my studies at Tufts, I also learned how to critically read and interpret qualitative and quantitative data, gained an appreciation for how to think holistically about pressing health care and public health issues, and developed an array of problem-solving skills to supplement those I acquired in the law school setting.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
Take full advantage of the multitude of opportunities a dual-degree program will offer you to learn, expand your thinking, gain practical skills, and hone those capabilities through real-world experience.  It may be that thesis, research assistant project, or co-op that sparks your passion for a particular area of health law—a broad field in and of itself—and launches you onto a career path you would not necessarily have contemplated otherwise.  Pursue what inspires and excites you, and find a mentor who will champion your goals and offer insightful advice along the way.