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Former nurse Kuhl still relies on caring principles

Barbara A. Kuhl

Barbara A. Kuhl

Nobel Prize winner Dag Hammarskjold once said, “Constant attention by a good nurse may be just as important as a major operation.”

Nurse-turned-lawyer Barbara A. Kuhl agrees. She learned about the importance of caring and constant attention during her 16 years in her first career, and now applies the same principle to ensuring the ongoing success of Marshfield Clinic.

Marshfield Clinic is the largest private group medical practice in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the U.S. as well. With 52 locations in more than 37 Wisconsin communities, its 778 physicians represent more than 87 different medical specialties. It additionally employs some 6,554 additional staff.

Kuhl heads its five-lawyer legal department. For a health-care provider of its size, that’s a small legal department and Kuhl is extremely proud of how much the lawyers, other professionals and support staff are able to accomplish. Among their diverse tasks, the office annually reviews a heavy volume of contracts, but also, they spend a sizeable amount of time just keeping up with the ever-changing laws affecting health-care providers.

Although Kuhl learned a great deal as a nurse and found the job rewarding, she’d always wanted to be a lawyer. So when her sons both reached the age where they were in school full-time, she enrolled in law school. (One of her sons ultimately followed in her footsteps. Brandon Kuhl graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2009 and works for the Durrani Law Firm in Madison.)

After graduation, Kuhl practiced with Hostak, Henzl & Bichler S.C. in Racine, where she was later promoted to shareholder.

In 1999, Kuhl joined Marshfield Clinic, and was named general counsel one year later. As general counsel, she has developed concentrations in contracts, acquisitions, tax and corporate work.

Despite the weakened economy, she says Marshfield Clinic is still hiring physicians and succeeding as a business, while serving patients with accessible, high-quality health care, research and education. That’s due to constant attention from its leadership roles as to what’s best for the clinic, long-term, and the daily efforts of dedicated staff.

Looking ahead, Kuhl observes, “We’re exploring some corporate re-structuring. And with the new health-care law, like everyone else, we’re looking at what the future will hold for accountable-care organizations.”

Employer: Marshfield Clinic, general counsel/compliance officer

Education: J.D., Marquette University Law School, 1991

Professional affiliations: Wisconsin Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, Special Advisory Committee; American Medical Group Association, Council of Attorneys

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