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How to Address Disparities? End Bullying of Nurses in the Workplace.

Apr 27, 2014, 10:00 AM

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Donna M. Fountain, MA, MSN, APRN, PHCNS-BC, a former assistant professor and RN-to-BSN program coordinator at Kean University, responds to the question, “What does the country need to do to address disparities and build a culture of health that includes all people?” Fountain is an RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholar graduate fellow in the PhD program, and a doctoral student at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, College of Nursing.

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Minority communities are challenged with many health disparities, including limited access, increased cost, and reduced quality of health care. Over the last decade, New Jersey has experienced the closure of several hospitals and visiting nurse services, especially in minority communities, leaving minority patients at increased risk of poor health outcomes. Issues related to black-on-black crime due to psycho-social dilemmas have fostered a higher level of vulnerability, hostility, and violence. 

Bullying in nursing presents another health care service variable which may impede quality and patient care outcomes for the minority population. For that reason, it is important to address the impact workplace bullying has on patient care and organizational factors such as adequate staffing and quality nursing care. 

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How Can Health Systems Effectively Serve Minority Communities? Promote Health In Community Settings.

Apr 27, 2014, 9:00 AM

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Monica E. Peek, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and associate director of the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research at the University of Chicago, responds to the question, “What are the challenges, needs, or opportunities for health systems to effectively serve minority communities?” Peek is an alumnus of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program.

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With the health policy introduced by the Affordable Care Act, health systems have a unique opportunity (and admittedly, a challenge as well) to transform themselves in ways that promote health and not just treat illness. Such efforts are particularly relevant for racial/ethnic minorities, which disproportionately suffer from the morbidity and mortality of chronic diseases that are largely preventable in nature.  Lifestyle changes (e.g. dietary patterns, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and limited alcohol intake) can prevent or help manage the majority of chronic diseases in the United States, which are disproportionately present within minority communities.

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How to Address Disparities? Educate, Engage Young Professionals in This Work.

Apr 26, 2014, 2:02 PM

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In virtually every public health venture, health departments are confronted with the consequences of social poverty, institutional racism, and other forms of universal injustice. It is my belief that in order to make any significant change to a society, it is essential to have leaders who are in the forefront of the upcoming generation. Young professionals will ultimately bear the responsibility for implementing the policies and programs necessary for sustainable development. Budding physicians and researchers are exposed to an extensive array of sustainable development perspectives at a formative age in their professional development. This strengthens their own knowledge base and advances their capability to comment substantively on health disparity issues and to become effective agents of change.

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How to Advance Minority Health? Our Educational Systems Can Help.

Apr 25, 2014, 1:00 PM

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Janet Chang, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., responds to the question, “Minority health is advanced by combating disparities and promoting diversity. How do these two goals overlap?” Chang is an alumna of the RWJF New Connections Program; she studies sociocultural influences on social support, help-seeking, and psychological functioning among diverse ethnic/racial groups.

Given the rapidly changing demographic landscape, ethnic/racial minorities will constitute the majority of the U.S. population by 2043 (U.S. Census, 2010). This inevitable shift to a majority-minority population has far-reaching implications for our society. The future of the United States will largely be determined by how we address growing disparities in income distribution, health care, and health outcomes. Yet, frank discussions about disparities and diversity lag behind the rapid population growth of ethnic/racial minority groups. In this respect, educational systems play a pivotal role in facilitating and shaping the dialogue about diversity. By promoting diversity, we can combat health disparities and advance minority health.

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How Can Health Systems Effectively Serve Minority Communities? Part of the Solution is Improving Care for Those in Correctional Facilities.

Apr 25, 2014, 10:45 AM

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Raymond Perry, MD, MS, medical director of Los Angeles County Juvenile Court Health Services, responds to the question, “What are the challenges, needs, or opportunities for health systems to effectively serve minority communities?” Perry is an alumnus of the RWJF Clinical Scholars program (UCLA 2009-2012).

Racial and ethnic minorities are significantly overrepresented in the U.S. correctional system. As these men, women, and adolescents spend days, weeks, months, or years detained in jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities, the health care system must recognize the health implications of the disproportionate incarceration of minorities, as well as the opportunities for addressing minority health issues in our society—namely, inequitable health care access and disproportionately negative health outcomes. 

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How to Address Disparities? Interprofessional Teams, A Collaborative Approach to Training.

Apr 25, 2014, 9:13 AM

To mark National Minority Health Month, the Human Capital Blog asked several Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) scholars to respond to questions about improving health care for all. In this post, Kate Driscoll Malliarakis, PhD, ANP-BC, MAC, an assistant professor at the George Washington University School of Nursing, responds to the question, “What does the country need to do to address disparities and build a culture of health that includes all people?” She is an alumna of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program.

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The quick answer is to admonish legislators in state and federal governments for failing to gain consensus on what care they will provide and then for actually failing to provide the care. 

Government bureaucracy is certainly a barrier to attending to the health needs of the people in the United States, but government is only one of the issues we face. Often, our society fails to step up and acknowledge inherent prejudice. We surround ourselves with “our kind” and observe others from a distance. We develop a kind of detachment from those who are not like us, and we fail to acknowledge the richness of cultural diversity. The volatile world economy in the past few years has proved that many of us are but a few paychecks away from personal ruin; in other words, we too can easily become a disparity statistic.

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Coming to the Rescue of Young Men of Color

Feb 27, 2014, 4:30 PM, Posted by Maisha Simmons

The Alameda County Public Health Department's EMS Corps program is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

When he was 17, Dexter Harris was good at two things: football and hustling. Although he went to school, he spent most of his time trying to earn money. He wasn’t thinking about his future. He was thinking about surviving the here and now.

Instead of finishing his senior year, Dexter found himself in a California juvenile facility. There, he met a mentor named Mike who told Dexter about a new program, EMS Corps, that offered far more than emergency medical training (EMT) classes. EMS Corps also provided tutoring, mentoring and leadership classes, and was looking for people from the community who were willing and ready to serve in the emergency services field.

After hearing about EMS Corps, something changed for Dexter. He weighed his options and saw that with EMS Corps he could actually have the chance for a different life. Dexter threw himself into studying, and eventually graduated first in his EMS Corps class. As a certified EMT, Dexter now has a career with Paramedics Plus and returns to the juvenile facility to teach other young people about being a First Responder.

In every community there are young men like Dexter who have the potential to succeed.  But like most young people, they need help and support to bring out their best.

Today, I was honored to be present at the White House as President Obama helped to add more momentum to a growing movement to expand opportunity for young men of color. I was joined by leaders from both the public and private sector committing their intellect, creativity, passion and resources to continue to identify solutions for men and boys of color.

I was inspired by the continuing and new energy to ensure that every young man has the opportunity make healthy choices and has the tools to live a healthy life. That includes skills to succeed in school and work. EMS Corps is just one bright light among the many innovative and inspiring approaches that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been proud to support as part of its effort to create a culture of health and opportunity for all young people.  This new national initiative announced at the White House brings a new chance to build upon this exciting and important work.

It’s not just EMS Corps. Look at our Forward Promise partners to see the richness of programs already lifting up young men. It’s not just the White House and our Foundation colleagues in this movement either. There are thousands of teachers, police chiefs, state and local legislators, judges, church leaders, and community based organizations from across the country that are taking steps to ensure that all young people in America, including our young men of color, have the opportunity to succeed. If our job is to build a culture of health for all young men, then those collective efforts are its vital building blocks.

As I arrived at the White House this afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of Dexter. And of all of the “Dexters” who will benefit from this unprecedented moment of commitment to hope, change, and opportunity for our sons, brothers, students and neighbors. I’m proud to be a part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and of this larger movement. Together we can bring out the best in our young men. And they—in achieving their promise—can bring out the best in all of us.

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Overcoming Health Disparities: Promoting Justice and Compassion

Jan 22, 2014, 10:30 AM

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)

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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. 

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Living and Learning at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

Oct 31, 2012, 8:54 AM, Posted by Myra Parker

Myra Parker, JD, PhD, is acting instructor at the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Washington and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections grantee. 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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I took my seven-year-old daughter to help me pick up my registration materials at the Moscone Center. I was thrilled to map the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian (AI/AN/NH) sessions and discover they are located in one of the central buildings this year! It’s terrific to be able to attend the general sessions AND those specific to my community, which has not always been the case with AI/AN/NH sessions held in off-site hotels last year in Washington, D.C.

My daughter was amazed and excited to see the performances outside the convention center. The artistic displays added to the air of festivity as American Public Health Association (APHA) attendees took over the Moscone area. I was excited to see the diversity of attendees across many different professional backgrounds and ethnic/cultural communities.

We attended the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Caucus General Membership Business Meeting. This was the first time I had the opportunity to attend the business meeting, which included officer elections for the upcoming two years, introductions of members and visitors, and updates on the caucus budget and events. The caucus was able to fund six undergraduate, masters, and doctoral students from AI/AN/NH communities to attend APHA this year at $2,000 each. This is a wonderful new opportunity for these students, each of whom also applied to present a poster at the conference. I plan to attend the caucus social on Monday evening, which includes a silent auction of native art! This fundraiser contributes to the cost of providing caucus-specific sessions as well as to the student scholarship fund. I also learned that if we pack a room at the conference, there is a higher chance the caucus will be able to offer these sessions next year.

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