Beth Virnig is a Faculty Associate in the Center for Bioethics, and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Services Research and Policy in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. Dr. Virnig's research interests include access to heath care, cancer surveillance and care, and end-of-life care. Her public health research, broadly described as medical care epidemiology, naturally leads to philosophical questions about health care ethics and justice. Her goal is to conduct research that can inform and shape ethics and policy debates.
Dr. Virnig's research on end-of-life care focuses on non-medical factors (e.g., race, income, insurance option, geography) associated with the use of the Medicare hospice benefit and receipt of other health care services. This research, supported by the Commonwealth Fund, has examined geographic and demographic variability in use of hospice services, and the impact of managed care on use of hospice.
Dr. Virnig is also a mentor for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative in excellence in end-of-life care. Dr. Virnig has both a doctorate and masters in public health from the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree in psychology from Carleton College. After completing her doctorate, she joined the faculty at Dartmouth Medical School's Center for Evaluative Clinical Sciences (CECS). The diverse group of faculty at CECS helped her focus her research interest around conducting empirical research that can shape ethical and policy debates.
She then joined the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Miami School of Medicine and held a joint appointment at the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center. Miami's ethnically and economically diverse population was a rich environment for studying how use of health care is influenced by non-medical factors such as race, education, and income. In 1998, she returned to Minnesota and joined the faculty in the School of Public Health. She is also a member of the University of Minnesota Cancer Center and a member of Delta Omega, the Public Health Honor Society.