Category Archives: New Connections
Janice Johnson Dias, PhD, is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections alumnus (2008) and president of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, a health advocacy that develops and scales community health initiatives for women and girls. She is a graduate of Brandeis and Temple universities and a newly tenured faculty member in the sociology department at City University of New York/John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Policy action and discussion this month have focused on poverty, sparked by the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and Dr. King’s birthday. Though LBJ and King disagreed about the Vietnam War, they shared a commitment to ending poverty. Half a century ago, President Johnson introduced initiatives to improve the education, health, skills, jobs, and access to economic resources for the poor. Meanwhile, Dr. King tackled poverty through the “economic bill of rights” and the Poor People's Campaign. Both their efforts focused largely on employment.
Where is health in these and other anti-poverty efforts?
The answer seems simple: nowhere and everywhere. Health continues to play only a supportive role in the anti-poverty show. That's a mistake in our efforts to end poverty. It was an error in 1964 and 1968, and it remains an error today.
Let us consider the role of health in education and employment, the two clear stars of anti-poverty demonstrations. Research shows that having health challenges prevents the poor from gaining full access to education and employment. Sick children perform more poorly in schools. Parents with ill children work fewer hours, and therefore earn less. Health care costs can sink families deeper into debt.
By Janet Chang, PhD, an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections Program and an assistant professor of psychology at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Chang received a PhD from the University of California, Davis, and a BA from Swarthmore College. She studies sociocultural influences on social support, help seeking, and psychological functioning among diverse ethnic/racial groups. Her RWJF-funded research project (2009 – 2012) examined the relationship between social networks and mental health among Latinos and Asian Americans.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is well known for his fight against racial injustice, but he also advocated for socioeconomic justice. In particular, Dr. King said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” (Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, March 25, 1966). His profound words still resonate with us today.
While strides have been made in the past several decades, there continues to be inequality and unequal treatment. In 1978, the President’s commission reported ethnic/racial disparities in health services, and this is still a vexing societal problem in the United States. Compared to non-minorities, American Indians, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, and other ethnic/racial minorities are significantly less likely to receive the care that they need and more likely to receive lower quality health care. Ultimately, these disparities compromise the quality of life of most Americans.
The factors that contribute to heath disparities are complex. As a social-cultural psychologist, I also believe that our tolerance for injustice stems in part from larger cultural forces that shape our psychological tendencies, which simplify our world and constrain our ability to take the perspective of others. In the United States, the cultural values that make our society distinctive, independent, and strong may also serve to limit our potential for greater growth—a healthier, happier, and more productive society.
Michelle L. Odlum, BSN, MPH, EdD, is postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University School of Nursing in nursing informatics. She has more than ten years of experience as a disparities researcher working on a variety of research, evaluation, and health promotion initiatives affecting vulnerable populations. Odlum is a recent recipient of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) New Connections Junior Investigator award.
At this time when our nation’s health care reform is promoting new approaches to primary care, an exploration of health care models from around the globe is essential. With my interest in the transformative role of nursing care, I decided to attend the scientific session [at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting] entitled: Think Global, Act Local: Best Practices Around the World. Panelists presented on a variety of interesting care models from Europe to Central America.
As we explore initiatives to improve care coordination, it was interesting to hear Erin Maughan, RN, PhD, APHN-BC, an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow, talk about Scotland’s care coordination approach to children’s health. Maughan discussed home visitors, who provide care to children from birth to five years of age. An important aspect of the relationship forged with children and families is to allow for early identification of developmental needs, thus allowing for timely utilization of resources and services to address these needs. Interestingly, to support effective care outcomes for children with chronic illnesses over the age of five, each family is assigned a district nurse who is a chronic disease specialist.
Scotland has also coordinated health forms utilized by police, schools, and health care facilities; this is a team-centered approach for identifying and working with at-risk children. Scotland’s pediatric care model demonstrates the effective utilization of public health nurses and the implementation of inter-agency care coordination. We, as a nation, can certainly benefit from further understanding of these approaches.
Human Capital News Roundup: The Tour for Diversity in Medicine, the cost of food allergies, peer navigators for patients with mental illness, 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:
The Tour for Diversity in Medicine, founded in part by RWJF Summer Medical and Dental Education Program alumnus Alden Landry, MD, MPH, recently made a stop at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, the Washington Post reports. The Tour is a grassroots effort to educate, inspire, and cultivate students who are underrepresented in the nation’s medical and dental schools by reaching out to them on the nation’s college campuses. Learn more about the Tour for Diversity here and here.
Peter Ubel, MD, an alumnus of the RWJF Generalist Physician Faculty Scholars program and a recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research, was a guest on Marketplace radio to talk about the effect of advertisements about the Affordable Care Act. Read a post Ubel wrote for the RWJF Human Capital Blog about the health care law.
Childhood food allergies are costing the United States an estimated $24.8 billion every year—mostly due to costs that are not direct medical care—according to a study led by RWJF Physician Faculty Scholars alumna Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH. The study also asked parents what they would be willing to pay to make their child’s food allergy disappear overnight, Huffington Post reports. The average answer was $3,504 per year—close to the $3,457 average annual per family cost of managing a food allergy. Read a post Gupta wrote about her research for the RWJF Human Capital Blog.
The Real Deal: ACA and the Underserved – Panel Discussion at the National Association of Black Journalists
Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH, MA, MPA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science & Health Education at St. Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections grantee, his research focuses on the social and economic conditions structuring disparities in the health of African American males.
The Real Deal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that many Americans have many questions regarding how the ACA will affect their health care coverage or if they will be covered at all. Our panel discussion at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention revealed many of these questions concerning how Americans will be enrolled, how their existing health insurance plans will change, and what means tests will be used to determine their eligibility. This panel discussion suggested that many Americans were not aware of what the changes will be and if their state will expand Medicaid.
Medicaid expansion will not occur in many states where close to six of ten African Americans reside. This suggests that many African Americans will remain without health insurance or will be under-insured. This is a real challenge to improving health care outcomes and reducing health care costs over time.
The Potentiality of Increasing Diversity in the Health Professions from the Front Lines: Community Colleges
Ebbin Dotson, PhD, MHSA, is a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections grantee. He is executive director for the Health Professions Pathways Initiative at the City Colleges of Chicago. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.
Defining potentiality in my line of work is an opportunity for me to influence and encourage the diversification of the health care workforce. Here at the community college where I work, we serve 120,000 students across seven campuses and seven satellite sites on a daily basis (1). More than 70 percent of these students categorize themselves as being Black and/or Hispanic (2). In addition, we have developed partnerships with more than 100 industries, four-year colleges and universities, and community‐based organizations to help connect our students to real-world educational and work opportunities (3). On this national platform discussing diversity, we have an opportunity to change the future course of health care through our investments in health science education and training at community colleges.
As a health professions pathways researcher, it is my desire to increase the diversity of the health care workforce as a solution toward reducing health disparities. In my opinion, more minorities in the health care workforce will have a positive impact on the care provided to minority consumers of health care. Furthermore, as an RWJF New Connections grantee, it is my role to find ways to recruit and retain health professions students using pipeline programs. So what are the effective strategies that result in a diversified health care workforce?
Keon L. Gilbert, DrPH, MA, MPA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science & Health Education at St. Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice. As a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections grantee, his research focuses on the social and economic conditions structuring disparities in the health of African American males. His work seeks to identify sources of individual, cultural, and organizational social capital to promote health behaviors, and health care access and utilization, to advance and improve the health and well-being of African American males. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.
I became a public health professional because I recognized a need to find opportunities and strategies to prevent the chronic diseases I saw silently killing African Americans in the community where I grew up. I vividly recall as a child the whispers surrounding the deaths of community members about cancer, diabetes (or sugar-diabetes, as it is commonly referred to in many communities still today), heart attacks, and strokes. I knew there was stigma and fear, but never heard of programs, interventions, or opportunities to stop these trends.
My interest in addressing these problems led me to pursue summer programs and internships during high school that allowed me to witness amputations of uncontrolled diabetic patients who had a range of clinical and social co-morbid conditions. Many of these amputees were living in poverty, they had Medicare or Medicaid, and the majority happened to be African American. This experience raised the question about prevention: How could I prevent African American men and women from having amputations? I never heard this conversation around prevention in my community. Many people seemed to accept the reality of developing these chronic conditions as a fate that could not be controlled.
I knew there had to be another way.
The following are among the many honors received recently by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees.
RWJF Clinical Scholars alumnus David J. Shulkin, MD, has been named chair of the board of the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals. Shulkin is president of Morristown Medical Center and vice president of Atlantic Health System.
Health & Society Scholars alumna Janxin Leu, PhD, joined HopeLab as Director of Product Innovation, where she will direct the Lab’s “new initiative to promote human resilience and inner values through social-tech innovation.”
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has approved the UNC School of Nursing’s proposal to add the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree to its graduate clinical offerings. Two RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows alumnae were instrumental in ensuring the proposal’s approval: School of Nursing Dean Kristen M. Swanson, PhD, RN, FAAN, and newly-appointed DNP program director Debra J. Barksdale, PhD, RN, CFNP, CANP.
Kevin B. Johnson, MD, MS, the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor, chair of Biomedical Informatics, and a professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has joined the RWJF Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program National Advisory Committee.
The following are among the many honors received recently by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) leaders, scholars, fellows and grantees.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) named 70 new members and 10 foreign associates at its 42nd annual meeting. Among the new members with RWJF connections: RWJF Clinical Scholars alumni Christopher J. Elias, MD, MPH, and Tracy A. Lieu, MD, MPH; RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research recipients Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, Jens Ludwig, PhD, Jack Needleman, PhD, FAAN, and Sara Rosenbaum, JD; and RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research alumnus Paula M. Lantz, PhD.
Sally S. Cohen, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the RWJF Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico (UNM), has been named to the UNM School of Nursing’s newly created Virginia P. Crenshaw Endowed Chair in Nursing—the School of Nursing's first endowed chair.
Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH, an alumnus of the Clinical Scholars program, was awarded the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics Outstanding Achievement Award in the application of epidemiologic information to child health advocacy.
Robin Newhouse, an Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) grantee, was appointed vice-chair of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s Methodology Committee.
This is part of a series introducing programs in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Human Capital Portfolio.
Raphael Travis, DrPH, knows the power of New Connections. For Travis, New Connections’ training events—such as symposiums and coaching clinics—were an important source for professional development in a welcoming atmosphere. He says, “I heard about the actual grants during the training workshop and knew I had to apply. The ambiance was inspiring, welcoming and needed. The combination of a supportive atmosphere and intellectual depth transcended what my home University offered. I was very excited to apply.”
Travis, a 2008 grantee, is an assistant professor at Texas State University- San Marcos. His New Connections project uses data collected in the 1997-2002 evaluation of Health Link, a program established to help reduce substance abuse among individuals returning to their New York City community after incarceration at Riker’s Island. The study explores: how positive youth development opportunities relate to recidivism; the relationships among mental health, substance use and recidivism across time points; and the potential cultural uniqueness between African-American and Latino youth.
Hector Rodriguez, PhD, MPH, knows the power of New Connections too. For Rodriguez, the program offered training and new research methods that powered his work. Rodriguez says, “New Connections is a fantastic opportunity for underrepresented junior faculty to pursue important public health and health care research, while being connected to a large network of prominent scholars.”