Rebecca Clark, M.D., Ph.D.
One of My Toughest Cases
Infectious Disease Specialist Crescent Care
Photographed by Theresa Cassagne
Patients Lacking Basic Necessities
A native of Seattle, Rebecca Clark, M.D, Ph.D realized as a young girl that she wanted to study medicine. While attending medical school at the University of Washington in the early ‘80s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic was newly recognized and rising rapidly.
“Sometimes the diagnosis is not evident,” right away, she notes, “or there is not information on how to treat a disease process, or there is no good treatment option available.”
HIV/ AIDS has claimed the lives of more 35 million people, but Clark also notes that “the relatively quick advent of powerful antiretroviral therapies has made working in this field very rewarding, and I have concentrated my work in this area.”
Clark currently works at Crescent Care, a community health center that offers a full spectrum of quality care at low to no cost to the entire community with or without insurance. The organization serves more than 9,000 people each year with medical care and over 30,000 through HIV and STI prevention education efforts.
“Restrictions on medications placed by insurance companies” are among her biggest challenges when it comes to treating HIV and AIDS, she says.
Additionally, the epidemic is complicated in multi-faceted ways — patients often lack basic necessities including housing, transportation, and food, and severe disease processes do not always respond to treatments, she notes.
Clark believes her role is to provide the patient with “knowledge and information and help them make a mutual decision on the treatment course,” and she firmly believes that each case she deals with offers a learning opportunity.
Undergraduate: Mills College
Medical School: University of Washington