Jun 5 2014
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RWJF Scholars in the News: Diversity in the nursing workforce, barriers to breast-feeding, child maltreatment, and more.

Around the country, print, broadcast, and online media outlets are covering the groundbreaking work of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows, alumni, and grantees. Some recent examples:

HealthLeaders Media features New Careers in Nursing (NCIN), a joint initiative of RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) that is increasing diversity in the nursing workforce. “The reason [increasing diversity] is important, of course, is because the population of nursing does not really reflect the population at large,” Polly Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, says in the story. “We are now working very aggressively to have the number of people entering the profession look more like the population of the United States.” Bednash is NCIN program director and AACN’s CEO.

In an opinion piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jooyoung Lee, PhD, writes that, in the aftermath of mass shootings, the media and public often focus chiefly on the shooters and forget about the families of those slain. “Instead of fixating on the shooter, or retreating into our own lives, let’s remember and honor those who are left behind. Their lives are often difficult and grinding; their grief is immeasurable. Healing from murder is rarely—if ever—a quick or complete process,” writes Lee, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus. Read more about Lee’s work.

Living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence can affect students’ academic performance, according to a study from RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus from Patrick Sharkey, PhD. The Washington Post reports that the study found that neighborhood violence that occurred within seven days of a test appeared to reduce Black children’s performance on language arts assessments. “When violence is in the air, when the threat of violence is in the air, then it becomes something that spills over to affect not just people who are involved, but everyone who lives in the community,” Sharkey says.

In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Cynthia Colen, PhD, MPH, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna, draws attention to the socioeconomic barriers that prevent some mothers from breast-feeding. Colen writes that outdated parental leave policies and unaccommodating workplace conditions make it difficult for many women, particularly those with low incomes, to breast-feed.

About one in eight American children and adolescents will experience maltreatment by the time they reach adulthood, according to a study from Christopher Wildeman, PhD, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumnus. “That 12.5 percent of children get to a point where their maltreatment is confirmed highlights just how big of a risk factor this is for children,” Wildeman tells Reuters Health. Children are most at risk of maltreatment during their first few years of life, according to the study, with about 6 percent experiencing some kind of abuse or neglect by the time they are five years old. The study was also covered by The Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, UPI, and NPR. Separately, Health Affairs Blog covered another study by Wildeman finding that high incarceration rates among Black men enrolled in clinical studies may compromise researchers’ ability to identify disparities, because the men are not available for follow-up research.

The Los Angeles Times covered an opinion piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics and written by Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, an RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars alumna. Gupta’s piece accompanies a study that found children whose mothers ate nuts while pregnant had a decreased risk of a nut allergy. She writes that “[c]urrent guidelines recommend that mothers should not restrict their diets during pregnancy, but this recommendation remains a widely debated topic among food allergy experts.” Further research is needed, Gupta says, to determine why 1 in 13 U.S. children has a food allergy.  Read more about her work on the subject.

Hospitals tend to sequence their adoption of electronic health record (EHR) functions similarly, according to a newly published study, but that sequence is beginning to change because of federal meaningful use requirements. This change could affect patient care, according to the study’s authors, who include Shoou-Yih D Lee, PhD, recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. FierceEHR reports that the meaningful use incentives for the use of EHR technology may be causing hospitals to alter the order in which they implement EHR functions. The researchers stress the importance of assessing “the impact of such re-ordering on patient care and the cost of EHR adoption in hospitals.”

Heavily traversed roads and highways running through predominantly low-income neighborhoods pose serious health threats, according to a study from Carolyn McAndrews, PhD, an RWJF Health & Society Scholars program alumna. The study focuses on Verona Road, a busy thoroughfare that runs through a low-income community in Madison, Wisconsin, 9 News (Denver) reports. Many roads across the country pose public health hazards, including the risk of being hit, as well as blight, crime, and pollution, but “neighborhood concerns rarely change the direction of the planning process,” McAndrews says.

Loraine Frank-Lightfoot, DNP, MBA, RN, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow, is helping families stay closer to home while caring for premature babies in Wooster, Ohio, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. As director of patient services and chief nursing officer at the Wooster Community Hospital, Frank-Lightfoot is part of the hospital’s effort to add a special-care nursery. Until now, premature infants, many with jaundice or eating, breathing, or temperature regulation problems, have been transferred to more distant hospitals.

The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage features an interview with Edward Walker, PhD, on his new book, Grassroots for Hire: Public Affairs Consultants in American Democracy, which looks at the history of public consultancy firms becoming involved with mobilizing grassroots support for policy positions. Walker is an RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus.

Kristy Nichols, MS, an RWJF Community Health Leader, is leading the Louisiana state government’s push to save an estimated $500 million by spending taxpayers’ dollars more efficiently, according to the Baton Rouge Business Report. Nichols is head of the state’s Division of Administration, and is pursuing such efficiencies as centralized purchasing and the rental of existing state property holdings.

Tags: Community Health Leaders, Community violence, Diversity, Executive Nurse Fellows, HC Website Feature, Health & Society Scholars, Human Capital, Human Capital News, Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research, Media Coverage, New Careers in Nursing, Nursing, Physician Faculty Scholars, Research, Research & Analysis, Scholars and fellows, Scholars in Health Policy Research