Skip to Main Content

Future Doctor Driven to Help Those in Need

April 14, 2021
by Colin Poitras

As executive director of the HAVEN Free Clinic, Claudia de Bruyn spends a good deal of her time making sure undocumented New Haven residents receive quality health care.

Assisting vulnerable and marginalized populations is a major part of what drives de Bruyn’s interest in public health, where she is currently a second-year student pursuing an M.P.H. degree in health policy.

In addition to her leadership at Yale’s student-run clinic, de Bruyn spent last summer exploring ways local hospitals can improve health outcomes in their surrounding communities through an internship with the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS).

The internship was supported by a donor scholarship that de Bruyn says was a great financial help, given that her temporary government job was unpaid.

“The internship allowed me to grow both professionally and personally,” said de Bruyn, who plans to pursue a medical degree and eventually work as a primary care physician.

“I definitely want to practice as a primary care physician, serving vulnerable populations in an urban setting,” she said. “Ultimately, I’d like to merge my clinical experience with my policy knowledge and really drive health care reform. Expanding health care coverage to undocumented people is a social issue I really care about.”

During her time at OHS, de Bruyn conducted an analysis of hospital community benefit spending as part of a statewide effort to improve maternal and infant mortality rates and encourage healthy eating and physical fitness.

“The ultimate goal is to increase hospital investment in the surrounding community to address social determinants of health,” said de Bruyn. “For instance, New Haven is a food desert. So, a hospital like Yale New Haven Hospital might consider ways it can help residents by increasing access to healthy food options.”

De Bruyn said the internship provided important real-world experience in her field and an avenue for applying what she has learned in the classroom. She also developed an analysis of taxation policies during her internship.

“My time at OHS inspired me to continue to work at the state and local level on health policies that can improve health outcomes and inequities” de Bruyn said in a thank-you letter to the donor who supported her internship. “Thank you so much for being part of my journey to becoming a more effective and knowledgeable public health professional.”

Individuals interested in supporting student scholarship and internships at the Yale School of Public Health, can do so by visiting the School’s giving website (www.yale.edu/givesph) and designating their desired gift amount to the Public Health Alumni Fund – Financial Aid. Or contact Cornelia Evans, Director of Development and Alumni Affairs at cornelia.evans@yale.edu.

Submitted by Ivette Aquilino on April 14, 2021