BFUSA Welcomes Brianna Clark as New Board Member

Published On: November 10, 2022|Tags: |

As a primary care physician in a rural environment, Brianna Clark, DO, MPH, CNPM, CLC, the newest member of BFUSA’s Board of Directors, encounters the full spectrum of care in her practice.

“I cover ER clinic, inpatient medicine, nursing home care management, etc. I do a little bit of everything,” she says.

But her passion is prevention.

“Before I went to medical school, I was in public health school. That’s where my passion for prevention and thinking about how we can help keep people as healthy as possible comes from,” she says. “We’ve got to understand the barriers that people sometimes face. It’s one thing to say, ‘just eat more vegetables, or just breastfeed.’ But we’ve got to back up and think about the different strategies that help people be successful. That’s a whole other level of helping keep people healthy.”

And that’s the foundation for her interest in breastfeeding and Baby-Friendly.

“Breastfeeding really does make a difference in people’s health outcomes. If we can reduce barriers and help more people have access to support in breastfeeding and make it a natural part of society, in and outside of the hospital, we’ll see some real positive health outcomes down the road,” she says.

Dr. Clark’s mother hails from Bloomington, a town in southern Texas with a population of less than 3,000.

“They have one Dairy Queen, and a liquor store,” she recalls. “It’s a very tight-knit      community.”

As a child, she remembers her mother, a librarian, talking about the lack of health information and poor access to preventive healthcare in the community.

“That sparked my interest in understanding what could we do about that,” she says. “Hospitals are expensive. Treatment plans are often very expensive. Prevention is not. And supporting healthy lifestyles is not. Then when I learned about the power of breast milk, it led me to go further into this.”

“I am a breastfed baby. So, I have to disclose that I have received financial support from a breast milk producer,” she jokes.

Dr. Clark is also passionate about breastfeeding as a means for addressing inequities in care.

“Breastfeeding is a classic example where we see racial disparities within healthcare,” she says. “I trained almost solely in the southeast US, so I saw it firsthand. I was often told that this patient population just doesn’t want to breastfeed. They’re not smart enough to understand it. They’re not invested enough. And that’s just not true. I think when we step back and think about the health of America, and specifically the health of minority populations, we really have to dig in and stop those myths and stereotypes from being passed forward in the medical community. There have been access barriers, lack of appropriate interpreters in the hospital, and the historical trauma that descendants of enslaved persons faced. That all impacts breastfeeding at the end of the day. It breaks my heart to hear those things. And I want to change that.”

Dr. Clark plans to be a voice for underrepresented communities, including rural settings, on the BFUSA Board.

“Rural and urban are completely different,” she says. I think there are definitely things we can learn from each other. We have to come together and have those conversations and see what works for us – because we’re talking about babies and the parents who support them. An urban baby and a rural baby are both babies at the end of the day.”

And she sees Baby-Friendly as an important catalyst in that conversation.

“I think the role of Baby Friendly is promoting infant nutrition the way it should have always been promoted,” she says. “It has morphed in many ways into combating the marketing from formula companies, which has forced us into a defensive role. But at the end of the day, Baby-Friendly exists to encourage families to breastfeed and make sure that they have accurate information about breastfeeding.”

BFUSA is pleased to have her strong and impassioned voice on our Board of Directors.

“Dr. Clark’s public health and community background and her small-town experience will be invaluable to BFUSA,” said Theresa Landau, BFUSA’s Board Chair. “She is a voice for the ‘voiceless’ and those who have not previously had a platform to be heard. She has had an impact on our organization in a very short time, and she brings wisdom, dynamism, and varied perspectives to our Board of Directors.”

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