Nurse. Lawyer. Mentor. Alumna Profile: Meg Garrett '83

Margaret R. "Meg" Garrett, JD ’83, BSN, MED, has been inspiring students of the Law & Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law for decades, and she has no plans to stop anytime soon. Garrett, Chief Legal Counsel and Practice Group Leader for Risk Management, Regulatory, Patient Care, and Ethics at the Johns Hopkins Health System, estimates she has “mentored several hundred students” through semester-long externships in her office. “Some of the students are now judges – they’re a very successful group...”

Meg Garret '83, , Chief Legal Counsel and Practice Group Leader for Risk Management, Regulatory, Patient Care, and Ethics at the Johns Hopkins Health System

Garrett took a roundabout path to attending Maryland Carey Law, first attending the University of South Carolina School of Law for two years. She was thankful to be able to transfer to Maryland Carey Law as her family made a move to Baltimore.

At the time, health care law was a newly blossoming field. Patients’ rights, end-of-life issues and medical ethics were relatively new to the fields of law and medicine, and the Law and Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law was about to begin under founding director Karen Rothenberg, JD, MPA, now the Marjorie Cook Professor of Law.

Garrett had been a nurse in the U.S. Navy, and she saw firsthand how newly developing patients’ rights were changing the field. She always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, though where she grew up, most women were nurses, teachers or administrative assistants. “I liked to argue,” she explained with a laugh.

By the time she began her career, Garrett had four children under the age of six, her second child born during exams in her second year, and her twins born after the bar exam. Her first job after graduation was part-time as a Staff Attorney at Hopkins, leaving time to care for her growing family. Garrett eventually transitioned to full-time at Hopkins, and she has never worked anywhere else in the Legal profession.

“I get excited about the new ideas of my students, any new career prospects, something they’ve written or a big decision they were a part of. I really enjoy seeing these students succeed.”

Garrett now oversees risk management, patient care and ethics for the Johns Hopkins Health System, consisting of six hospitals in the United States, Ambulatory Surgical Centers, Homecare, ambulatory practices and numerous Johns Hopkins International’s hospitals worldwide. She has watched an evolution in ethics and patients’ rights. Her office operates a 24-7 telephone advice line for Hopkins providers, with a member of her staff on-call at all times to answer legal questions. When it began, the line took about 10 calls a week, “and now it is not uncommon to get 10 calls a night” on topics such as consent advance directives, MOLST, or medical futility, Garrett said. A staff of three attorneys has grown to 30. “Health care law involves every aspect of law from Torts to Contracts,” Garrett said.

Garrett began taking externship students from Maryland Carey Law almost immediately upon joining Hopkins. “I really believe in giving back, I love mentoring,” she explained. Her externs are integral parts of her office, “they really are a part of my team,” she said. “They get to go to depositions and court cases and mediations, and down to Annapolis with us. They do research on legal topics and draft memorandums and develop educational seminars. They are really actively involved.”

“The reason I’m still here is because there’s never a dull moment, every day I learn something.”

She stays in touch with her past students, deriving pleasure from their successes. “I get excited about the new ideas of my students, any new career prospects, something they’ve written or a big decision they were a part of. I really enjoy seeing these students succeed,” she said.

Garrett has no plans to retire, and recently has taken on leadership roles in industry organizations including the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, and the board of the American Hospital Association’s American Society for Healthcare Risk Management. “The reason I’m still here is because there’s never a dull moment, every day I learn something,” she said.

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