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It’s About More than Money

Oct 22, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Heather Kelley

Healther Kelley Heather Kelley

“Being selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar was such an honor!  I was already excited about starting my PhD program, but this took that excitement to another level.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the boot camp, but it was truly transformative.”  - Laren Riesche, a Future of Nursing Scholar attending the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Riesche was one of the 16 new scholars I was privileged to meet on August 5 and 6 at our program’s first-ever scholars’ event.  In addition to providing financial support to nurses to complete their PhDs in three years, the Future of Nursing Scholars program will also provide a series of leadership development activities.  One of these activities is a boot camp which will be held for each cohort prior to the start of their doctoral programs. 

Future of Nursing Scholars Bootcamp Future of Nursing Scholars Boot Camp

The first-ever boot camp was a two-day event at which the scholars were able to meet and connect with one another, and begin the work of developing skills that will serve them well as they pursue their PhDs.  Sessions addressed crucial issues, including developing strategies for peer coaching, and identifying and understanding one’s own approach to change and exerting influence.  The new scholars met with current doctoral students to discuss a variety of issues and were given time to network with program leaders, guest speakers, and each other.  A workshop served as an introduction to scholarly writing and the event closed with a panel on selecting and working with mentors.

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Getting Medical Residents Ready for Real Life

Oct 21, 2014, 11:00 AM

New guidelines from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) are intended to close the gap between expectations and the reality of what medical students are prepared to do at the start of their residencies.

Known as the Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency, the guidelines include 13 activities—such as performing physical exams, forming clinical questions, and handing off patients to other physicians when residents go off duty—that all medical students should be able to perform, regardless of specialty, in order to be better prepared for their roles as clinicians. In August, AAMC launched a five-year implementation pilot with 10 institutions.

Ensuring that the nation’s medical school graduates “have the confidence to perform these activities is critical for clinical quality and safety,” AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said in a news release earlier this year. “These guidelines take medical education from the theoretical to the practical as students think about some of the real-life professional activities they will be performing as physicians.”

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Thoughts on Mentoring

Oct 20, 2014, 9:00 AM

For 23 years, Project L/EARN has created stronger candidates for admission to graduate programs. The intensive, 10-week summer internship provides training, experience, and mentoring to undergraduate college students from socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in graduate education. Project L/EARN is a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, and Rutgers University. In this post, interns and mentors share their insights on the value of mentoring in general, and on Project L/EARN in particular. For more, check out an accompanying Infographic: Project L/EARN: Milestones.

“Project L/EARN mentoring has been incredibly instrumental in my career path and has contributed greatly to my professional success. The program was my first major introduction to research, and helped me to apply and reinforce research methods and statistical analysis skills throughout my undergraduate and graduate years.” — Anuli Uzoaru Njoku, MPH, DrPH, post-doctoral fellow, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 1999 Intern

“Mentoring means allowing me to experience how someone else sees me—someone who believes in me and sees my potential, someone who can set my sights higher and in the right direction.” — Tamarie Macon, MS, PhD in progress, University of Michigan, 2006 Intern

“Project L/EARN mentoring, then and now, has been the difference between the summer program being a one-time experience, and the beginning of an educational and professional career that will undoubtedly contribute to the story of my life. The mentoring was the avenue by which my truest potential, of which I had no real awareness, was discovered and cultivated. That cultivation has resulted, and is still resulting, in opportunities and accomplishments that are beyond my imagination.” — David Fakunle, PhD in progress, Johns Hopkins University, 2008 Intern

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RWJF’s Clinical Scholars Program: A Proud Legacy of Creating Change

Oct 16, 2014, 12:00 PM

Encouraging physicians to be not only agents of care, but agents of change: That’s the challenge the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars Program has embraced for 45 years, and it’s a challenge the Foundation has met with “great success,” writes Bharat Kumar, MD, in an article in the American Medical Association’s ethics journal, Virtual Mentor.

In an era of increased activism and access to health care as evidenced by the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, a group of medical school professors envisioned the Clinical Scholars Program as a way to move beyond “the detached and passive model of medical practice” and instead “train physicians to become agents of change, not only in the clinic and in the hospital, but also in communities, in classrooms, and the halls of power,” Kumar writes. Three years after the program was launched in 1969 at five universities, with support from the Carnegie Corporation and the Commonwealth Fund, it came under the auspices of RWJF.

The article describes the program’s current objective—to provide post-doctoral training for young physicians in health services research, community-based participatory research and health policy research—and its current structure: training sites at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and the University of California, Los Angeles; a national program office at the University of North Carolina; and a longtime collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that supports positions for Clinical Scholars via affiliated Veterans Affairs medical centers.

The program’s final cohort of scholars, selected this year, will follow in the footsteps of more than 1,200 alumni, many of whom “have become leaders in health care policy and delivery,” Kumar writes, with roles in all levels of government and notable advancements in the fields of pediatrics, internal medicine, and emergency medicine.

Alumna Stacey Lindau, MD, says in the article that the program’s “traditions of promoting excellence, critical thinking, and service extend beyond the two to three years of training, effectively creating a pipeline of alumni dedicated to service.”

Read “The Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program: Four Decades of Training Physicians as Agents of Change.”

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.

Let’s Have a Conversation about Food that Goes Beyond Restriction and Restraint—and Resonates with Real People

Oct 15, 2014, 9:00 AM

Sonya Grier, PhD, MBA, is an associate professor of marketing at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C., and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program (2003-2005).

Sonya Grier Sonya Grier, PhD, MBA

Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on receiving the Thomas C. Kinnear award for your 2011 article in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing on food well-being! Please tell us about the award.

Sonya Grier: The award honors articles published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (JPP&M) that have made a significant contribution to the understanding of marketing and public policy issues. This year, eligible articles needed to have been published between 2010 and 2012. The marketing community was called upon to nominate articles for the award. JPP&M editorial review board members and associate editors then voted among the nominees.

Generously funded by Thomas C. Kinnear, his colleagues, friends and former students, and administered through the American Marketing Association  Foundation, the award’s purpose is to recognize authors who have produced particularly high-quality and impactful research in marketing and public policy.

HCB: How did your article do that?

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Crusader Against Cancer

Oct 14, 2014, 9:00 AM

For the 25th anniversary of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), the Human Capital Blog is publishing scholar profiles, some reprinted from the program’s website. SMDEP is a six-week academic enrichment program that has created a pathway for more than 22,000 participants, opening the doors to life-changing opportunities. Following is a profile of Jacqueline Barrientos, MD, a member of the 1994 class.

Jacqueline Barrientos Jacqueline Barrientos, MD

As far back as Ancient Egypt, cancer has frustrated medical practice. Papyri written around 1600 BC describe various cases, with one concluding that “there is no treatment.”

But there’s hope for patients diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)—a cancer that attacks the blood and bone marrow—thanks to Jacqueline Barrientos, MD, who isn’t intimidated by the history surrounding the disease.

She’s busy helping to rewrite it.

Barrientos is part of a team researching new CLL therapies at the North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute’s CLL Research and Treatment Center on Long Island. In clinical trials, the pioneering drug treatments produced unprecedented results—considerably better than those achieved with chemotherapy, and minus the brutal side effects.

“We’ve never seen response rates like this before,” says Barrientos. “It’s astonishing.” When the FDA approved the use of the new treatments earlier this year, she and her team were elated. “We’re giving life to patients who once had no hope of surviving because the cancer was so aggressive.”

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Meeting the Needs of Children in Partnership with Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

Oct 3, 2014, 12:00 PM, Posted by Danielle Altares Sarik, Sunny G. Hallowell

Sunny G. Hallowell, PhD, APRN, is a postdoctoral fellow, and Danielle Altares Sarik, MSN, APRN, a predoctoral fellow, at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Hallowell is also a Leonard Davis Institute Fellow. Both are pediatric nurse practitioners serving on the executive board of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Pennsylvania Delaware Valley Chapter. Monday, October 6, is National Child Health Day.

Sunny G. Hallowell Sunny G. Hallowell

Many Americans may not know that children born in the United States are less likely to survive to their fifth birthday than children born in other high-income peer countries. The United States falls at the bottom of the Commonwealth Fund’s recently released “Mirror, Mirror” report, ranking last out of 11 countries for infant mortality.  

As children hold the greatest potential to achieve good health, high infant and child mortality may be particularly surprising.  Early lifestyle and health care decisions can set children on a trajectory that determines their health for a lifetime.  

Danielle Altares Sarik Danielle Altares Sarik

As a country, we can do more to ensure the health of our youngest and most vulnerable population. Using nurses and nurse practitioners (NP) to the highest level of their education and training is one strategy. Robust use of nurses and NPs can offer solutions to improve infant and child survival rates through prenatal, postnatal and early childhood health surveillance. 

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The 21st Century Medical School and the “Flipped” Classroom

Sep 30, 2014, 9:30 AM, Posted by Susan Dentzer

Flip the classroom video still

Pity the poor medical student...or at least many students now slogging away in medical schools across the nation.  

Most spend the first two years of medical school cramming their heads with facts about the functions of cells, organ systems, and other aspects of the human body. Having contact with real patients—the reason most students went to medical school in the first place—is quite limited until the third year, when clinical clerkships begin.

Meanwhile, medical knowledge is exploding, doubling every five years, and taxing the human brain’s capacity for processing and recall. Today’s medical students know that one day, they’ll be most likely to practice medicine with the aid of “cognitive computing” systems like IBM’s Watson, which has already “learned” as much as a second-year med student, and is helping clinicians at the Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and other institutions process reams of medical information to make clinical decisions. 

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Bringing in Diverse Perspectives to Build a Culture of Health

Sep 24, 2014, 9:00 AM, Posted by Lori Melichar

Susannah Fox Susannah Fox, RWJF Entrepreneur in Residence

Entrepreneurs start from a place of passion, then work tirelessly to make others see their vision. I'm excited to announce that Susannah Fox will be pushing all of us at the Foundation to behave more like entrepreneurs.

This month, Fox began a new role as the Foundation's next entrepreneur in residence. She was previously an associate director at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, where she combined traditional survey research with field work in online patient communities. She excels at using data and storytelling to compel policymakers, consumers, and entrepreneurs to understand and discuss key health care issues.

To build a Culture of Health in the United States, we have to consider new approaches and ways of thinking. We need the creativity, imagination, and efforts of people from a range of backgrounds and industries to develop innovative solutions to our most pressing health and health care challenges. A health and technology researcher and trend spotter, Fox will be a valuable asset to these efforts.

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I’m RWJF’s Newest Entrepreneur in Residence

Sep 23, 2014, 1:54 PM, Posted by Susannah Fox

Susannah Fox offers office hours at RWJF. Susannah Fox offers office hours at RWJF.

I am thrilled to begin my job as the entrepreneur in residence (EIR) at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

You might think that the EIR role is traditionally associated with venture capital firms, not foundations. But scratch the surface and you’ll find commonalities between the two industries. Both VCs and philanthropists have daring ambitions, place lots of bets, and hope for a big pay-off every once in a while. The difference is that a philanthropy like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation places a priority on societal dividends, such as greater access to health care or a reduction in childhood obesity.

I also like this definition of entrepreneurship: “The pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” That fits the Foundation to a T as we pursue the audacious goal of building a Culture of Health in the United States.

But how will we measure success? How will we know if our bets ever pay off, especially when we are talking about culture change? I have a story to tell that I think illustrates how a small grant can make a big difference in the world.

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