Public Health, For the Multi-faceted
Alum Clarence Lam models a collection of hats for public health professionals.
Physician. Health policy expert. Delegate to the Maryland General Assembly. To his many titles, Clarence Lam, MD, MPH ’10, added one more this year: director of the Bloomberg School’s General Preventive Medicine Residency.
Among the vital lessons he has to teach students: Pursing a range of passions is more than acceptable in the field of public health.
Lam’s interest in public health and public policy was cemented during a 15-month leave from medical school, when he worked as a policy analyst at the Center for Health Security. The job brought Lam under the aegis of the center’s director, Bloomberg School Dean Emeritus D.A. Henderson, MPH ’60.
Lam was inspired by Henderson’s phenomenal career in eradicating smallpox globally and strengthening emergency response programs in public health departments nationwide. Henderson told him, “We as physicians can do a lot to change a community’s health without ever putting a hand on a patient.”
Still in medical school, Lam also interned on the staff of Congressman Henry Waxman, who was then chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He recently reconnected with his former boss, named the Centennial Policy Scholar at the Bloomberg School, to talk about political reform in Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine.
In 2009, Lam enrolled in the Bloomberg School’s General Preventive Medicine Residency, which convinced him that “public health and preventive medicine is a team sport—we never work in isolation.”
As an MPH student, Lam joined the staff of Maryland State Delegate Dan K. Morhaim, a fellow physician who is also an associate in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. When Lam decided to make the leap into politics, Morhaim showed him the ropes of campaigning. Since November 2014, Lam has been representing Maryland residents of District 12, in Howard and Baltimore counties.
Lam credits his Bloomberg School experience for helping to prepare him for public service with signature public health skills of advocacy, telling a story using data and statistics, and working collaboratively with a team.
As director of the residency program, Lam will continue to expand high-quality opportunities for residents to gain experience in state agencies and the legislature in Annapolis, an arrangement he describes as having “tremendous synergy.”