Category Archives: Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College

Aug 28 2013
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Affirmation at the American Sociological Association’s Annual Meeting

Taylor Hargrove is a PhD student in the sociology department at Vanderbilt University and a graduate fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. Her research interests focus on racial/ethnic stratification, health disparities, social determinants of health, and stress. Her M.A. thesis examines the adequacy and utility of the stress process model among African Americans.

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As a rising third year in the sociology doctoral program at Vanderbilt University, I recently attended my first annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). I didn’t really know what to expect.  I suppose I thought it would be like any other conference I had been to, which, up to that point, had been pretty laid back.

The day I went to check-in, I realized I had been mistaken. I stepped inside the doors of the conference hotel and immediately became part of the swarm of sociologists from all around the world.  I became instantly overwhelmed. Not only were there a ton of people walking around, but I knew that there was so much knowledge and expertise surrounding me. I also knew that scholars I had, and continue to, read extensively were just inches away from me somewhere.

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Aug 27 2013
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A Fellow’s Perspective on the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association

Helena Dagadu is a fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College and a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at Vanderbilt University. Dagadu’s research and professional interests include comparative health and health policy, health disparities, social determinants of health, and international medical migration.

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Presenting and attending academic conferences are important components of a scholar’s development. Not only are such meetings important venues to present one’s work and receive constructive feedback, they also provide a less formal environment to meet scholars outside one’s academic home, exchange ideas, and foster lifelong academic relationships.

From August 10th to 13th, I participated in the 108th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in New York City. The theme for this year’s meeting was “Interrogating Inequality.” Given its distinct character as a global city and its rich history of diversity, New York provided the prime backdrop to examine how, in the words of ASA President Cecilia Ridgeway, PhD, “inequality, in all its multi-dimensional complexity, is produced in contemporary societies.”

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Aug 21 2013
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Pros and Cons of Federally Mandated Comprehensive Care

Italo M. Brown, MPH, is a rising third-year medical student at Meharry Medical College. He holds a BS from Morehouse College, and an MPH in epidemiology and social & behavioral sciences from Boston University, School of Public Health. He is a Health Policy Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. Read all the blog posts in this series.

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In 1986, Congress took a step in the direction of patient advocacy by passing the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). One part of this act, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), has served as the precedent for federally mandated care and has largely shaped our understanding of urgent care delivery in America. While some have touted EMTALA as a public health victory, many have scrutinized the federal mandate, citing its imperfection and labeling it as a strong contributor to the current ailments of our emergency medical system.

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However, 27 years after EMTALA became law, a greater emphasis is placed on preventive measures and comprehensive care, rather than urgent care, as a means to reduce negative health outcomes. Naturally, champions of cost-efficient comprehensive care have suggested that a federal mandate should be explored.

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Aug 14 2013
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U.S. Needs Primary Prevention, Especially for the Poor and Underserved

Adrian L. Ware, MSc, is a third-year graduate student in public health at Meharry Medical College. He holds a BSc in biology from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, and an MSc in biology and alternative medicine from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. He is a Health Policy Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College.  He aspires to become a Christian psychiatrist serving the poor and underserved. Read all the blog posts in this series.

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With innovation, brilliance, passion, and robust planning, public health students and practitioners ask: How can we protect the health of the nation? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of ten deaths in the United States are caused by chronic disease. The need for more cost-effective, comprehensive care has never been greater. Within the world of public health, there are three levels of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

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Primary prevention reduces both the incidence and prevalence of a disease, because the focus is on preventing the disease before it develops. This can change the health of the nation for the better. Secondary and tertiary prevention are also significant.

It is well known that emergency care is vastly important, given the sheer complexity of episodic clinical cases that present to the emergency room in “life or death” situations. These “provisions” are necessary for the United States to uphold its high ideals of liberty and justice for all. Adequate, culturally competent, comprehensive health care for all citizens is a social justice issue, and a fundamental right. To this point, our health system’s extreme emphasis on tertiary care is amongst the most fiscally irresponsible ways to improve the health of the nation.

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Jun 18 2013
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Where Supply Meets Demand: Why Medical Students Should Aim Their Sights at Primary Care

Italo M. Brown, MPH, is a third year medical student at Meharry Medical College. He holds a BS from Morehouse College, and an MPH in epidemiology and social and behavioral sciences from Boston University, School of Public Health. He is a Health Policy Scholar at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College.

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In an ad-hoc poll among classmates, I recently inquired about the most important date (in 2013) to a second year medical student. The overwhelming majority of respondents cited their respective STEP 1 exam dates as most important, followed closely by the season finales of ABC’s Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. While the top three responses are noteworthy, the one date that should bear the most gravity in the minds of medical students across cohorts is October 1st.

This October marks the launch of open enrollment for health insurance exchanges, a much-anticipated provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA seeks to reduce the number of nonelderly uninsured Americans by half; in other words, a projected 20 million new patients will enter the health care system over the next 18 months.

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May 23 2013
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Cultural Competency Matters

Regina Stokes Offodile, MD, CHSE, is an assistant professor in the Department of Medical Education, Division of Clinical Skills and Competencies at Meharry Medical College.  She currently instructs first- and second-year medical students on clinical skills, physician patient interaction, and clinical correlations of breast disease.  Her research interests include cultural competency.  She is pursuing a Masters in Health Professions Education at Vanderbilt University. This is part of a series of posts looking at diversity in the health care workforce.

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Cultural diversity in the health care workforce may be something that many have not thought about or considered a topic of concern.  It is a concept that health care providers, health care delivery systems, and hospitals need to have on their radar. Having a culturally diverse workforce is a matter of patient safety.  Employing a diverse workforce increases the likelihood of having employees who understand how a wide cross section of patients looks at disease, its diagnosis and treatment.  A diverse workforce may also address the language barriers and cultural disconnect that may exist in some health care delivery systems.

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In order to meet the increasing culturally diverse patrons of health care, there will be a need to have a corresponding change in the health care workforce. There will also be a burden on medical schools and residency training programs to produce culturally competent physicians, and to increase the number of physicians who are able to interact with and treat a culturally diverse patient population.

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May 17 2013
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Meharry Health Policy Scholars Set to Graduate

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College will graduate six scholars with certificates in health policy during Meharry Medical College’s 138th Commencement Exercise this weekend. Having completed the Center’s health policy education program, the scholars are poised to join the nation's leading health policy experts, researchers, and analysts. They will focus on caring for minority and underserved communities in their careers.

The graduating scholars are:

  • Kevin Blythe, MSPH, School of Medicine
  • Lamercie Saint Hilaire, School of Medicine
  • Ashley Huderson, School of Graduate Studies and Research
  • Brandon Morgan, School of Dentistry
  • Rebbie S. Timmons, School of Graduate Studies and Research
  • Nadia Winston, School of Graduate Studies and Research

Learn more about the scholars and what lies ahead for each graduate in the health policy arena.
Learn more about the RWJF Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College.

Apr 18 2013
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Human Capital News Roundup: Conflict resolution strategies, the federal cigarette tax, patient outcomes at Magnet hospitals, 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:

RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Physician Faculty Scholars alumnus Amal Trivedi, MD, MPH, is co-author of a study that finds older patients are routinely prescribed potentially harmful drugs, particularly in the South. Although the specific reasons for the regional differences are unknown, the researchers hypothesize factors like education, socioeconomic status, and access to quality medical care might be to blame, the New York Times Well Blog reports. NPR and Nurse.com are among the other outlets to report on the findings.

Fierce Healthcare reports on a study led by RWJF/U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinical Scholar Kelly Doran, MD, that finds frequent use of the emergency department at Veterans Health Administration facilities is often due to “severely compromised life circumstances,” rather than poor access to outpatient health care. The study raises questions about the degree to which increasing access to outpatient care, as the Affordable Care Act aims to do, will reduce emergency department use.

Manish K. Sethi, MD, a health policy associate at the RWJF Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, spoke to the Leaf Chronicle about a program he started at Cameron College Prep Middle School in Nashville to teach teens conflict resolution strategies in an effort to reduce violence in the Nashville area. Read a Q&A with Sethi about the program.

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Jan 9 2013
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Resolve to Strengthen Integrative and Preventive Medical Education in 2013

Jamila Williams, MD, MPH, is an assistant professor and health policy associate at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College, and associate program director of Meharry’s preventive medicine residency program. Sangita Chakrabarty, MD, MSPH, FACOEM, is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, and director of Meharry’s occupational medicine residency program. This post is part of the "Health Care in 2013" series.

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Often we are asked: “Is preventive medicine a real subspecialty?” Why yes, Virginia, it is real. Preventive medicine is a medical specialty that incorporates population-based and clinical approaches to health care, and focuses on keeping individuals healthy through a holistic approach to patient care.  And to that end, integrative medicine is real and here to stay as well.

According to the Institute of Medicine Workshop Summary, Integrative Medicine and the Health of the Public: A Summary of the February 2009 Summit, integrative medicine can be described as orienting the health care process to create a seamless engagement by patients and caregivers of the full range of physical, psychological, social, preventive, and therapeutic factors known to be effective and necessary for the achievement of optimal health throughout the life span. (Institute of Medicine, 2009 and Bravewell Collaborative Report, June 2010).

The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare,” will authorize funding for activities to enhance integrative medicine and preventive medicine education. Ultimately these enhanced education opportunities will lead to an improved public health workforce. Meharry Medical College’s (MMC) preventive and occupational medicine programs are among the 16 recipients of this funding. It will be used to incorporate evidence-based integrative medicine curricula in its accredited preventive medicine residency program and improve clinical teaching in both preventive and integrative medicine.

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Oct 30 2012
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An APHA Presentation: Addressing Racial Health Disparities with Culturally Competent Interventions Delivered from the African American Church

By Daniel L. Howard, PhD, executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College. The Center’s mission is to provide leadership in health policy education, research and reform, while improving the health and health care of underserved communities. This post is part of a series in which RWJF scholars, fellows and alumni who are attending the American Public Health Association annual meeting reflect on the experience.

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This week, I am part of a team that had the honor of being chosen to conduct a presentation on mental health in African American faith-based communities at the 140th Annual Meeting and Exposition for the American Public Health Association (APHA).  This is a significant topic for clinicians, researchers and policy-makers to consider when addressing mental health needs for African American individuals and their communities.

The Surgeon General’s Report Supplement (2001) noted that science can offer effective treatments for most disorders.  However, it noted, “Americans do not share equally in the best that science has to offer.” Numerous others researchers have concluded that publicly provided behavioral health services must be improved for ethnic minorities.

Research has consistently shown that, despite significant prevalence of mental health issues in the United States, most individuals do not seek treatment for these issues. Historically, research has shown that African Americans are even less likely to seek mental health treatment than their Caucasian counterparts. There are several reasons for this that are not exclusive to, but do include, the stigma that surrounds mental health in African American communities, the perceptions of mental health in African American communities, and the limited mental health resources available to address mental health needs in the community.

Despite the indication that the majority of mental health service needs for African Americans are unmet, there has been a strong and consistent response from the African American church to serve as the surrogate for the medical sector. Many published studies have found that African American churches have strong potential to serve as a highly effective gateway for the successful delivery of health intervention. The compatibility between health and wellness and African American churches, and particularly between mental health wellness and African American churches, can be attributed to several factors including the church’s consistent tradition of supporting its members and the inherent emphasis on the healing of psychological ills.

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