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Students Honored in Health Care Essay Contest

Andrew Strunk

Andrew Strunk (NHS’13) is this year's winner in's undergraduate category. He won for his essay, “Improving Quality of Care and Patient Safety Through Tort Reform.”

April 26, 2011 – An undergraduate won first prize and a law student second prize in a national essay contest held by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website,

Andrew Strunk (NHS’13) won in the undergraduate category for his essay, “Improving Quality of Care and Patient Safety Through Tort Reform,” while Katie Keith (L’12) took second place in the graduate contest for her essay, “Health Reform 2011: Beyond the Affordable Care Act.”, a website for students and faculty interested in health policy, has hosted the essay contest since 2007. The group announced the awards earlier this month.

Next Steps

Strunk, a health care management and policy major, won $1,500 as the first-place undergraduate awardee.

“Health reform continues to be a major topic of discussion in this country,” said Interim NHS Dean Julie DeLoia. “Andrew’s award-winning essay reflects the way in which our students are immersing themselves in this historic and impactful discussion on their journey to becoming change agents locally, nationally and globally.”

Kaiser this year invited graduate and undergraduate students to submit a “memo” to any member of Congress and recommend the next steps in health reform.

Advocating Reform

Strunk’s essay was a fictional note to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) called “Improving Quality of Care and Patient Safety Through Tort Reform.”

“Malpractice reform is not addressed as thoroughly as some other issues in the Affordable Care Act,” Strunk said. “The primary purpose of the malpractice system is to improve patient safety, and that is what the reform I advocate is all about.”

Strunk’s essay was selected from more than 100 undergraduate entries from students enrolled in a wide range of disciplines, including economics, public health, nursing, medicine and public policy.  

The winning essays are posted on’s website.

Critical Thinking

Katie Keith

Katie Keith (L’12) is this year's second-place winner in the graduate category. She received honors for her essay, “Health Reform 2011: Beyond the Affordable Care Act.”

Keith’s essay proposed that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and other Democratic leaders “take back a public relations firestorm dominated by conservative voices” on health care reform. She suggested that Harkin should advocate for payment reform to address rising health care costs and push for limited legal and policy concessions to Republicans.

“I was honored to be chosen as a winner and enjoyed the challenge of articulating the next steps in health reform,” Keith said. “It is undoubtedly an exciting time to be interested in health policy and health law, and I am extremely grateful that the Kaiser Family Foundation sponsored the contest to promote critical thinking among students.”

Keith is studying law at Georgetown while also earning a master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins as a part of a joint program.

After graduation she hopes to work in the private sector on health law issues and build on her experiences at both universities “to promote meaningful health policy initiatives.”

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